Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein urged to reverse Mary McArdle appointment

Tom and Mary Travers
Image caption Mary Travers with her father, Tom

A DUP MP has said Sinn Fein should reverse the decision to appoint a convicted murderer as a special adviser to the culture minister.

Mary McArdle, 46, was part of an IRA gang who ambushed Tom Travers and his family as they left Mass in south Belfast in April 1984.

Mary Travers, who was 22, was killed.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said Sinn Fein should have rethought the appointment in light of the pain it had caused the Travers family.

"I would have thought that given the reaction there has been, that Sinn Fein would have said we have made a decision on reflection that we will revisit the decision and appoint another person," he said.

"I strongly suspect they won't, let us be absolutely unequivocal here."

Speaking on Radio Ulster on Wednesday, Mary Travers' sister Ann said she had been shocked and felt physically sick when she heard McArdle had been appointed as adviser to Caral Ni Chuilin.

The SDLP's Alban Maginnis said Sinn Fein had shown no concern for the Travers family whatsoever.

He said the issue of Mary Travers' murder had been raised during the Irish general election earlier this year.

"You'd need to be deaf and blind not to realise that this would re-emerge as a very sensitive public issue," he said.

"I cannot understand how Sinn Fein did not foresee this, or perhaps they did foresee it, but thought 'we can do what we like'."

First Minister Peter Robinson described the appointment as "insensitive and a mistake".

Writing on Twitter the DUP leader said Sinn Fein should recognise the "hurt" felt by Ms Travers' family.

Horrified

On Wednesday, Ann Travers said she was "horrified" by the McArdle appointment.

"She's now (McArdle) in the position in which she is paid by the taxpayer - of which my mum is one," she said.

"I think it's really wrong and I think she should stand down."

However, the culture minister, Ms Ni Chuilin, defended the choice and said Northern Ireland was now in "a post conflict environment".

"Myself and my special adviser are both former political prisoners.

"The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 recognised the role of political prisoners

"I understand that, particularly where families have been bereaved, there are huge issues around grief and I respect that."

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