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IRA bomber Paul Kavanagh's position with education body branded ‘sickening’

Sinn Fein member is a murderer and has shown no remorse, says former Army officer


Sinn Fein’s Paul Kavanagh

Sinn Fein’s Paul Kavanagh

Sinn Fein’s Paul Kavanagh

Sinn Fein’s reappointment of a convicted IRA bomber to the Board of the Education Authority (EA) has been slammed by one of his victims as “sickening”.

John Radley from Birkenhead was a 21-year-old lance corporal in the Irish Guards when he was nearly killed by a nail bomb at Chelsea Barracks in 1981.

Paul Kavanagh was sentenced to five life terms for the attack and has retained his position with the EA having been renominated by Sinn Fein as one of the party’s three political representatives.

Mr Kavanagh is married to Martina Anderson, a former Sinn Fein MLA and MEP.

The couple married in 1989 at Full Sutton Prison while they were serving terms in separate prisons in England. Both were convicted of being involved in IRA bombing campaigns in Great Britain.

He only served part of his prison sentence before being released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement and was a special adviser to former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The Chelsea Barracks bomb killed 18-year-old John Breslin and a widow, Nora Fields (59). Forty people were injured including 23 soldiers.

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Mr Radley said he sees Mr Kavanagh’s continued appointment as nothing other than a reward for murder.

“Everyone in life, if they do a wrong, should pay the price,” he said. “But this sends the message that crime pays if you were in the IRA.

“Paul Kavanagh was a terrorist, he was a murderer. He ruined my life, cost me a career I loved. I never got a get out of jail free card. I had to live with his actions.

“Nowhere else in the world would someone who killed and has never shown any remorse for his actions be in such a position. Not only that, he has been and will continue to be in a position where he can influence the education of children.

“I’m a progressive person. I like to look to where I’m going, and not backwards to the past, but that past is being whitewashed with no apology. As usual it’s those who lost and grieved who feel it the most.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said the re-appointment of a man who “never showed any remorse” for his actions will be “sickening” for victims.

“To give such an individual a role in the oversight of education is frankly sickening. No society should view this as normal or acceptable.”

Mr Allister added: “The public will expect no less than the appointment of a bomber to a role in the education of our youth from Sinn Fein.”


TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister

In announcing the appointment, the EA said: “Mr Kavanagh is currently employed by the Martin McGuinness Peace Foundation.

“He previously served as a political member on the EA Board from February 1, 2021 until May 5, 2022 when the new Assembly was elected.

“Mr Kavanagh has declared that during the last five years he has undertaken political activity for Sinn Fein and canvassed on behalf of the party, or helped at elections. He does not currently hold any other public appointments.”

Mr Kavanagh has been on the board of governors at Lumen Christi College for the last decade years and will receive £8,000 per year for his EA role.

Asked to comment on the criticism of Mr Kavanagh’s appointment, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said last night: “Paul Kavanagh has a wealth of experience in education, government and policy development.”

Sinn Fein also reappointed Frank Maskey, recently retired as principal of Corpus Christi College, and Angela Mervyn, currently employed by the West Belfast Partnership Board in the role of education programmes manager and a director in the Upper Andersonstown Community Forum.

The DUP representatives on the board will be former MLA Mervyn Storey and Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Jonathan Craig.

The Alliance Party have named Derry and Strabane councillor Rachael Ferguson and Fermanagh and Omagh councillor Stephen Donnelly as party representatives while the Ulster Unionists will be represented by Belfast City councillor Dr John Kyle.

The Board of the EA is made up of 20 members plus the Chair. Eight are political members.

The EA is responsible for the delivery of education services throughout Northern Ireland.

Neither the EA nor the Department for Education have a role in political appointments to the Board.

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