“It has obviously had a neuralgic effect on Ann Travers”

Neuralgia: severe spasmodic pain caused by damage to or malfunctioning of a nerve and often following the course of the nerve.

It is well worth listening to Mark Devenport’s interview with Martin McGuinness in yesterday’s Inside Politics on Radio Ulster… Not least for his line that “one of the big failures of the peace process has been the inability to find agreement on how we deal with the past”.

Quite. Although from Mr McGuinness’ choice of wording it is clear he locates the fault with the victim here. Tom Kelly, writing in today’s Irish News, has a different take from the Deputy First Minister:

The over-riding defence of those with a past appears to be –lets move on and in a very pragmatic way they are right.

Their lives have always been about moving on, if they did not, they would have to actually face up to the shadows that lurk around their every corner, such as walking a daughter up the aisle while knowing that others murdered by them never got that chance or holding a grandson as he takes his first step or celebrating a parents 70th while hiding terrorist secrets which deprived others of those special and golden moments of life.

They have to move on because their families who romanticise what they did in the troubles- without knowing its true vileness- comfort their old age. While the victims, must look at empty chairs and stare in photographs that lock the lost into a time capsule that never changes. The fact is simple- victims and their families cant move on. There is no cure for broken hearts.

Politically, this issue is going nowhere. Sinn Fein has a veto on any changes to the arrangements for special advisors. And besides, the appeal Ann Travers is making is a moral, a not a political one.

Sinn Fein would be well advised to stand their ground over any external pressure to dictate whom they can and cannot appointed as political advisors to their Executive team. It is an independent function no party should surrender to its rivals.

Although Sinn Fein has done itself little credit by using some of these appointments as little more than a private honours system.

Besides, as Kelly points out, there is another more human reality behind all of this:

Like it or not, Northern Ireland is a better place because of Sinn Fein’s Damascene conversion to constitutional politics. Some of its leaders have shown remarkable courage and as a society we must acknowledge that. Others are too quick to hide behind the dissident threat as if it were a real challenge to their authority. Yet as experience shows terrorists always go for soft targets. That’s why Tom and Mary Travers got shot coming from Mass or Ronan Kerr as he left his home or why devices are placed outside the Alliance party offices.

The killing of Mary Travers and the attempt on her Magistrate (the judicial equivalent of a traffic warden) father and her mother was just one of many cowardly acts throughout the Troubles. It was petty and venal, and looks to have been done for the freezing effect it would have on other Catholics minded to join the judicial process at the time.

And it took place at a time when the young solicitor, Rosemary Nelson (nee Magee) was just beginning her career, and was to become a celebrated defence lawyer within the criminal justice system, and who, fifteen years later, was also to be brutally cut down for her participation in the same judicial system as Mr Travers.

In deciding a Resident Magistrate was somehow a ‘legitimate target’ the IRA laid open the path to further regressive acts by others who were vicariously following a path opened up to them by this attack on the Travers family.

Finally, dealing with the past does not require any kind of forced consensus, but there should be some attempt at consistency in how it is debated and talked about. That’s as much the fault of a media that’s become hooked on big headlines (and big narrative) but inattentive to the smaller telling detail such stories require, as it is to the powerlessness of our new professional political classes to do anything about it.

The rest – ie, the dealing with all victims of the troubles in a manner that’s commensurate with their patient suffering – is down to the autonomous exercise of some degree of human decency.

On that last, just don’t hold your breath.

, ,

  • joeCanuck

    “one of the big failures of the peace process has been the inability to find agreement on how we deal with the past”.

    That is an utterly despicable comment. Is the “truth” a zero sum game? You show me (a bit of) yours and I’ll show you (a bit of) mine. And who goes first? And how can we expect honesty when one of the leaders of unarguably the worst (morally/whatever) participating groups strenuously denies even being a member of that murder gang?

  • Nunoftheabove

    joeCanuck

    I noticed a slight fissure between MMcG and GA not long ago when they politely – amiably, even – (it was on Miriam O’Callaghan’s program, to be fair, the basis of the program being their lengthy personal friendship) but significantly differed on the issue as to whether they and others like them had a choice to take the paths that they chose i.e. along the militarist route, in the late 1960s and early 70s. McG disagreed with GA by saying that everyone did have a choice – in effect, either to ignore the issue, run away from it, to get politically involved or to get stuck in with the guns. He made no bones about the fact that he selected the choice and implied that he did in full awareness of the others available to him and by adopting some rational process of weighing one to the other given all of the circumstances. GA on the other hand said he felt that there was no other choice available other than the militarist one.

    We can argue all day about which is correct but there is no doubt in my mind about which’s position is the least moral (at least recognizing that there is such a thing as personal responsibility for one’s actions, surely a necessary but insufficient basis for any human ethics worthy of the name).

    Notwithstanding the Jon Ronson exploration of psychopathy that’s currently doing the rounds (althogh I’ve yet to read it), I have mentioned before that I believe quite a number of the following (Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”) noticeably attach themselves without strain to at least one of the people at issue here:

    * Glibness/superficial charm
    * Grandiose sense of self-worth
    * Pathological lying
    * Cunning/manipulative
    * Lack of remorse or guilt
    * Shallow affect
    * Callous/lack of empathy
    * Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

    Just a thought in terms of the prospects for any imminent and irreversible commitment to the truth in this society about where it has been. Not an uplifting thought with which to begin the week.

  • Psychopathy is I think a distinct possibility and a subject I broached when this story ‘broke’ but its not necessarily connected to the tv discussion. Adams upbringing in a strong republican household, not to mention any other problems, would almost certainly have shaped his belief that there was no other choice. It was after all what he had heard all his life.

    I’m no supporter (understatement!) of Gerry Adams but different lives lead to different decisions. In the case of Adams and McGuinness different routes took them to the same place and they were both wrong but based on upbringing Adams decision is the more understandable.

    The Travers case is a clear example of a decision being made with no regard to pain or consequence. The stubborn refusal of SF to do anything positive is a further sign of at best indifference to the pain of others but its also an indication that at least some of their representatives lack the empathy needed to reach out to all sections of society

    I don’t understand why the appointment of SPADs having been described as SF reward system should be kept in their control if they are so obviously abusing it.

  • Limerick

    An interesting aspect of this whole controversy is the way in which the republicans have been caught out telling the truth to their own followers, but spinning a contrite yarn to the rest of us.

    Hence we have McArdle on a Provo video explaining her feelings for Prison Officers “All you wanted to do was kill them, you just wanted to kill the b*stards,”

    Then we have the new SF mayor for Limivady. A man who murdered six old age pensioners, and who recently told us that he regretted his actions. However in 2009 when making a speech to his fellow republicans in rasharkin he had a different story.

    “I have no regrets – I have to say that there – no regrets, and I count myself lucky I made so many friends and friendships out of the whole thing and I am just glad I am alive and as of yet survived it…”

    This clearly indicates that they realise that their true feelings are not acceptable in civilised society and can only be aired amongst their fellow parallel univers travellers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This clearly indicates that they realise that their true feelings are not acceptable in civilised society and can only be aired amongst their fellow parallel univers travellers.

    And yet there is no comment – none – when the deputy Mayor of Newtownabbey (elected wholly voluntarily by the DUP) is threatened with arrest if he doesn’t comply with a court order to give evidence on a sectarian murder he allegedly witnessed.

    “The court heard that earlier this week while refusing to come to court, he told police that the only thing he had to say was “the conflict is over and I will tell the judge that”.”

    What exactly is the difference between Ann Travers and Alfredo Fusco ? Apart from the fact that murders committed by loyalists aren’t subject to the same kind of scrutiny ?

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    You were expecting me to comment on an article from December 2010? Can you explain the relevance please?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Limerick, does it take only six months to change the goalposts ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    By the way, to answer your first question, “yes”.

    On the second question, the relevance is that the DUP can appoint – entirely by choice – loyalist paramilitaries (Kirkham is alleged in this article to have been on the UDA’s ruling council) to positions of authority without any question over the slight to the victims of the UDA’s paramilitarism.

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    You had to root around six months in the past to come up with your whataboutery. I don’t see the relevance though. Has Kirkham been boasting about his terrorist exploits in the way that McArdle and McGlinchey did.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You had to root around six months in the past

    Would it be better if I rooted around 25 years in the past ? Do you want me to go and find an example of loyalist terrorism from 1984 ?

    to come up with your whataboutery

    Is discussion of pure and unbridled hypocrisy off limits ?

    Has Kirkham been boasting about his terrorist exploits in the way that McArdle and McGlinchey did.

    At no point has Travers indicated that the problem is anything to do with McArdle bragging.

    As for Kirkham, as far as I know – like McArdle – has has been working on various peace initiatives.

  • perseus

    good attack Mick, almost check-mate
    trouble is your mating net ends with:
    an appeal that shinners are caring enough to rise to the challenge to show human decency.

    ya can’t quite “put em away”
    hey no blame, who can do better?

    Liam Clarke nailed it for me last week:
    paraphrase:
    when you’ve got a team of ex-prisoners, appointing other ex-prisoners,
    what else do you expect?

    Its not at all about votes! you sure? winks SF

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’d just like to make sure I understand things correctly, as explained by Limerick up there.

    Apparently when the DUP appoint an alleged senior member of the UDA to a political office in 2009, who was ordered to appear in court as an alleged witness to a murder, it’s ancient history and we shouldn’t talk about it.

    When SF appoint an IRA member in 2011, it’s a travesty and a slap in the face to victims of terrorism.

    There’s nothing like a level playing field.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And by the way, we’re not allowed to talk about when the DUP appoint ex-paramilitaries to roles, or when they select them as candidates. Because that would be whataboutery.

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    I can’t understand why you would want to root around anywhere in a quest for whataboutery. Neither do I see any hypocrisy emenating from anyone other than those who labour night and day in their efforts to try and divert attention away from the evil carried out by the Provisional IRA.

    You quoted directly from my post which dealt with the earlier boasts of McArdle and McGlinchey, and the way those boasts undermined their current claims of regret. For some reason you dragged up a completely unrelated story from six months ago and accused all and sundry of not commenting on it.

    Do you seriously think you were making a relevant point?

  • RedTurtle

    @perseus

    Yep. if Rosemary West got out and was elected an MP she should be allowed to take her seat.

    If a Tory or Lib Dem called her and the people who voted for her “scum” then they should be treated as quite right to do so.

    All this makes a united Ireland much farther away than it would be otherwise so I don’t care that much myself.

  • Limerick

    “Apparently when the DUP appoint an alleged senior member of the UDA to a political office in 2009, who was ordered to appear in court as an alleged witness to a murder, it’s ancient history and we shouldn’t talk about it. ”

    Absolute nonsense. You can talk about whatever you like, but if it is blatant whataboutery then it will be called as such.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Limerick,

    I can’t understand why you would want to root around anywhere in a quest for whataboutery.

    Isn’t it obvious ? I want an explanation for why it is acceptable for unionists to appoint ex-paramilitary figures to things, but not republicans. Why are you struggling so hard to avoid answering it ?

    Neither do I see any hypocrisy emenating from anyone other than those who labour night and day in their efforts to try and divert attention away from the evil carried out by the Provisional IRA.

    I am totally opposed to the IRA and what they did, and I am glad that they were defeated. I have never at any time done anything other than utterly condemn the illegal and murderous actions they instigated. Are those credentials good enough for you ?

    Surely it would be easier for you to simply agree that unionists are hypocritical and have no basis upon which to throw stones in glass houses ?

    You quoted directly from my post which dealt with the earlier boasts of McArdle and McGlinchey, and the way those boasts undermined their current claims of regret.

    But the centre of the debate here is that Ms Travers believes that it’s not appropriate for the person who murdered her sister to be appointed to a government job. McArdle’s boasting is nothing to do with it, at least not from her point of view.

    For some reason you dragged up a completely unrelated story from six months ago and accused all and sundry of not commenting on it.

    The story I posted illustrates how a political party appointed – through its own choice and free will – an individual whose paramilitary connections are a matter of public record.

    The story that this thread is about, and to which you made a number of discussions, involves a political party which appointed – through its own choice and free will – an individual whose paramilitary connections are a matter of public record.

    How can you say that they are unrelated ? They are very similar scenarios. The only difference is what shoe the foot is on.

    Absolute nonsense. You can talk about whatever you like, but if it is blatant whataboutery then it will be called as such.

    When you say “whataboutery” what do you mean ? Do you mean that we can’t talk about the Kirkham situation because I lacked the foresight to mention it before the McArdle situation became a news item ?

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    Who has said that it is acceptable for unionists to appoint ex paramilitary figures to things?

    Mary Travers has repeatedly said that she can accept the fact that terrorists have been elected into office. Her problem with McArdle is that she was not elected into anything. She was appointed to her job without any mandate. Kirkham was an elected politician.

    I say whataboutery because you plucked an irrelevant story from six months ago and launched it into the middle of a conversation about a Provo murderer being appointed to a Spaad job. You claim to be anti Provo, so at the minute only you know your motivation for doing so.

    Btw they are not similar scenarios at all. If Kirkham had been convicted of a murderand had been appointed to a highly paid unelected government job in spite of the complaints of his victim’s family then you might have a point. Especially if he stubborny clung onto his job despite being well aware of the huge hurt he was causing. It would also help if he had publicly boasted about how happy he was about what he had done.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Republican murder gangs’ spokespersons always attempted to justify their actions by referencing some past ‘crime’ perpetrated by the ‘Brits’. This was either on the micro level specifying some particular incident or on the macro lamenting the 800 years of ‘occupation’.

    This approach continues in the ongoing war of words about the causes and consequences of the past forty-odd years. Nowadays any comment deemed to be anti-republican is not addressed at face value rather some other issue in the republican lexicon of victimhood is introduced. This whataboutery is both a comfort blanket and a shroud that at one and the same time gives them the warm feelings of the downtrodden croppie and provides a veil that attempts to conceal the matter at issue from scrutiny.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think you mean Ann, Limerick.

    Comrade S,

    I have to confess to being puzzled as to how 90% of this thread relates to even 5% of what I have written above.

    Politically, this is uncomplicated. A party employed spad and the deal which allowed Tommy Kirkham take the Mayorship of Newtownabbey is nowhere near the same order.

    But, corporatively, all politicians in all parties have to grin and bear the public grief of victim’s families whether it is publicly aired like Ann Travers, or borne in silence like the vast majority of those numbered in the Lost Lives book.

    As Alex Kane notes in the UTV report below, none of our politicians have the structural means to deal with the deep hurt in wider society. Why? Because no one will agree to opening up their own dirty linen cupboard.

  • perseus

    have to confess that on an emotional issue like this
    one seeks a thread, as near as damnit to make yer point.

    sorry but having no structures to deal with the past
    we are simply left with our hurt and frustration.

    neuralgia, never as acute as ann travers
    but a numbing dead feeling returns ,which
    post- pc kerr optimism ,
    slides once again into requiem and obituary.

    How to murder your own child of unity, by SF
    The End.

  • perseus

    possibly “child of destiny”is an improvement

  • Alias

    I can’t decide which is more the nauseating spectacle: the amoral ‘peace processing’ agenda or sight of those who progressed that agenda pretending that shafting the victims of NI’s state-sponsored murder campaign wasn’t supposed to be a logical outworking of it and that there ’empathy’ is thereby devoid of cynicism.

    Unlike other state-sponsored murder campaigns where so-called truth, justice and reconcilliation processes have been useful in rebuilding civic society after those who bore responsibility for that murder campaign have been deposed, all the agencies that are reponsible for the local murder campaign remain in power with the addition of promotion of members of the murder gangs and other belligerent protagonists to administration in the old regime. The obvious consequence of allowing the old regime the discretion to investigate itself is that it will either decline to do so or do so on terms that will exhonerate it.

    When the British state decided to promote the DUP and PIRA/PSF as the axis of the Executive it also decided that reminding the public of the despicable crimes that these degenerates were responsible for carrying-out would not be productive to that policy of getting each sectarian designation to vote for them to become the largest designation respectively. That policy sealed the fate of the victims.

    More generally, the catholic designation would likely have a problem with voting for the murder gangs in sufficient numbers if they were to become cognisant of the reality of their crimes rather than allowed to see these crimes as being nessessary for the promotion of the catholic designation within the British state to parity of esteem with the protestant designation.

    Therefore, they would be conditioned by cognitive dissonance to see the attempted murder of the catholic Mr Travers as different from the murder of the catholic Mr Kerr because the former ‘colluded’ with the British state before that state had promoted the catholic designation within the British state to parity of esteem with the protestant designation. If that fails, there are plenty of other useful tricks of cognitive dissonance in play (e.g. the claim that the murder of a catholic teenager was an accident).

    No one really gives a damn about the living victims. Their role is to shut up and not bother anyone with their pain. The regime doesn’t want folks to know the scum they voted for, or about the roles of those they didn’t vote for and aren’t accountable to them. The public is happy to be deceived because they don’t want to think of themselves as being capable of collusion in such depravity, unwitting or otherwise, nevermind in celebrating it. The media doesn’t care either, so it just covers the story to create the false impression that it does and that the people do, but like all the other victims who have shown their pain, they’ll be forgotten about after the 15 minutes is up and another story comes up in bi-annually located slot.

    Folks knew what they were voting for and what the consequences of that would be, and the SDLP knew it too…

  • perseus

    badly written, ill-defind rubbish and rot alias
    this story has managed to just about upset everyone.
    vomiting up the familiar axe-grinding bile,
    by insulting just about everyone;
    puts yourself firmly inside the same category as those you seek to attack.
    more hypocrisy
    after two weeks we’d all hoped to see more than two cheeks!

  • turnpike

    But at least Kelly didn’t try to name-drop his clients….that’s progress

  • Mr Crumlin

    Just going to be honest about this whole thing.

    As a SF supporter (not member) I think any unease at this story has now well and truly been forgotten with the comments of the brother in Australia – reminds me of the change in attitude towards the McCartney sisters.

    Im not saying its right that this change has happened but I believe it to be the case.

  • Mr Crumlin

    I think you’re right it will be ‘forgotten’ and that is what SF are waiting for. The thing is moderates and independents obviously have opinions and this will be one more reason why they didn’t vote for SF and come the next election it will be one more reason why they won’t vote for SF.

    I think its almost reached the stage where people will begin refusing to vote for a united Ireland because of SF, and that means SF are dangerously close to having outlived their usefulness. As Gerry Adams said: “If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Honesty is good Mr C!! It’s basic currency around here. It’s the bloody shufflers I can’t stand!

    I think I’ve said on another thread, in response to J Kelly, that there is a point at which these things have a press sell by date. If I look back at the McCartney story, it was the Washington trip that was the finish, and the fact that everything that was going to come out did.

    It interesting that during the council election (now Cllr) Deirdre Hargey’s poster was on a lamp post at the end of the entry where Robert McCartney was murdered. Cllr Hargey was one of the witnesses who ‘forgot‘ she was in Maginness’ bar at the time the cops arrived.

    Here is SF’s own personal dilemma. Don’t poster that lamp post and it looks like you are denying your controversial past. Put it up and you are de facto torturing the family of the victim.

    I don’t know if that was what prompted Paula McCartney to speak, but I suspect it was a factor.

    In this case, whilst there is more to come out, what’s left is in the possession of volunteers who are not going to talk. All there is left is decency. Or, more pointedly, its lack thereof.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Crumlin,

    Why have the brothers comments been the tipping point? Just asking.

    Personally, I don’t know where this story is going. Who is preaching and to whom?

  • perseus

    Mr crumlin,
    also please explain how the appointment fits with
    winning hearts and minds for the future referendum.

    here’s a joke for you i made up last night:
    what dya call a room/hotel full of shinners
    talking to each other about irish unity?
    idiots?
    do you get it?

  • Mr Crumlin

    Lionel

    His brother (for obvious and good reason) hates everything SF stand for – he more or less said they should get on their knees, repent and criminalise the ‘struggle’. That will be how SF supporters read it.

    Mick is right – the McCartneys lost the support of the republican community when the went to USA – ‘who do they think they are…theyre not the only ones to have lost someone’ became the attitude.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Mr Crumlin,

    Ok, well I thought the biggest grievance I heard from the brother was regarding the secrecy. Thats the worst part of this I think. If you do the crime, serve the time, you should be allowed to move on. But not only is Mary McArdle unrepentant, but the families struggle for justice continues and she could help them. She’s in government and she wont. Thats got to be torture.

    Anyway, Sinn Fein have said all they need to say to the ‘republican’ community to keep their support. They just need to keep quiet now. It will go away eventually.

  • “As Alex Kane notes in the UTV report below, none of our politicians have the structural means to deal with the deep hurt in wider society. Why? Because no one will agree to opening up their own dirty linen cupboard.”

    But what would be the consequence of opening up that cupboard?

    I noticed that Martin McGuiness evaded questions about his own personal past. He obviously thinks that it would harm his party’s cause if he was to come clean about his past.

    And is Sinn Fein the only party with a dirty linen cupboard ? Alex Kane would know much more about that subject than I would

  • Mick Fealty

    Mr C,

    Judging by the comments on Slugger, ‘who do they think they are’ was the attitude almost from the ‘get-go’ amongst republicans who were online at the time.

  • perseus

    the way SF treats the vctims of its violence is how it will be judged by others:
    McCartneys, Quinns, Travers ..of recent times.
    Has anyone told them:
    “You can’t reach the finishing line by being nasty, cruel, or ugly.”
    I can’t get my head around the stupidity of the party.
    Who do they think they’re fooling?
    In life you have to admit your failings,
    lower yourself when spotted, and above all be kind ..
    it doesn’t actually cost that much,
    its a change of attitude, a healthier mentality,
    then it comes naturally to be less fearful and defensive.

    What PR firm does SF employ?
    Mick dya know, or have I made another joke?

  • vanhelsing

    Mick,
    This is good “And it took place at a time when the young solicitor, Rosemary Nelson (nee Magee) was just beginning her career, and was to become a celebrated defence lawyer within the criminal justice system, and who, fifteen years later, was also to be brutally cut down for her participation in the same judicial system as Mr Travers”

    It nicely illustrates that both sides carry blood on their hands – two pointless murders of innocent victims. Ironically both Roman Catholics and the murders carried out by opposing paramilitary groups.

    I agree with Seymour [for a change] 🙂 if we open Pandora’s Box who knows what might fly out and at what cost to a peace process that is still imbedding.

    I’m ashamed to say [and having thought long and hard about it] that I would prefer to stick my head in the sand and not know about the deeds perpetrated or directed by some of our politicians on the hill if it meant immunity from prosecution. You see I would then struggle to support a process that included them if we were to discover that some directed murderous acts. Is that cowardly of me?

  • Mr Crumlin

    Perseus – this has nothing to do with hearts and minds.

    I think it was Michael Collins who said – if I had had enough jobs there would not have been a civil war.

    The appointment is about looking after the former combatants who have played a crucial role in building the peace process – I reckon you know that anyway.

    I guess its a bit like me saying what has Ruth Pattersons attitude towards Niall I Donnghaile got to do with the DUPs new middle the road views?

    My point is that I think SF will ride this one out – will not lose any support as those of us who voted for them know what we voted for.

    However I do take your point (and Pippakins) that this will not do much for winning new voters or convert anyone to Irish unity. What it will do is shore up the former IRA base – a base that remains crucial to the republican movement.

    Mick – agree with you on the McCartneys to a point. I think the hard core Shinners always had that attitude but at the start the broader republican community was less than happy with the murder. I recall when they went to USA the sisters said something about the struggle in general – I saw that as a major turning point. Soon after that the views of the wider republican community hardened.

  • “those of us who voted for them know what we voted for”

    Mr Crumlin, I doubt if many of those who voted SF know that much about the internal machinations of the PRM, past and ongoing. Even SF HQ appears to be struggling with relatively recent ‘irregularities’ in the North Antrim sector.

  • Neil

    My point is that I think SF will ride this one out – will not lose any support as those of us who voted for them know what we voted for.

    Agreed 100%. Most people knew beforehand that the IRA killed members of the judicial system, along with police, army and informants. Most of the people who vote for SF knew that some of the people they voted for have committed acts such as the murder of Ann Travers. The McCartney murder, Quinn murder, Northern Bank, Baron of Northstead, Liam Adams etc. etc. etc.

    All those stories died a death after SF ignored them long enough. I wouldn’t expect either the approach or the inevitable outcome to change at all. The shinners (along with every other party) will continue to play the rules to the best effect possible, for Sinn Fein. And the voters will keep on voting for them.

  • joeCanuck

    It’s worth while pointing out once more that in this specific case we are not talking about someone who has been elected but someone who has been appointed to a highly paid position. There is no transparency that I can see around the process that gets people appointed and we are talking about tax payer money. I think that Robinson’s move to examine the process is very shrewd.

  • Neil

    It’s worth while pointing out once more that in this specific case we are not talking about someone who has been elected but someone who has been appointed to a highly paid position. There is no transparency that I can see around the process that gets people appointed and we are talking about tax payer money.

    Correct, exactly as it is in England, Scotland and Wales. What’s your point? That the whole system of appointing SPADs needs changing? Maybe so, but bear in mind that the DUP, UUP etc, also appoint SPADs with the same level of transparency.

    I think that Robinson’s move to examine the process is very shrewd.

    Shrewd in the sense that safe in the knowledge any move to change the system as a result of this appointment will be torpedoed by Sinn Fein, the DUP like every other party will be able to appoint SPADs in the same way they have done?

  • Mr Crumlin

    Joe – I think it saves taxpayers money! To have a competition for these posts would cost money and the same person would be appointed.

    I work in the civil service – a special adviser is essential post as without it the civil service would become very politicised.

    I will wait to see if the review bt Robbo is shrewd – I suspect little will change.

  • joeCanuck

    Neil,

    The point that I was trying to make is that quite a few on this thread do not appear to understand the distinction between being elected by your peers to represent them and an appointment. Yes, the lack of transparency is the same elsewhere and for all of the parties here but I am fairly sure that if a convicted murderer was appointed as a SpAd in Scotland, e.g., there would be questions asked there too.

  • Neil

    Joe,

    I can agree with all of that, but what I’m attempting to point out is that while other parties almost certainly do not want convicted murderers as SPADs I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to enact change to the way they’re appointed. It works to the benefit of all the parties.

    Peter is a shrewd man (ya only need to have a cursory examination of his and his missus’s Westminster grocery expenses and land deals to see quite how shrewd he is) and I’m certain he, like Sammy, know well that any attempt to enact changed legislation will be torpedoed by SF. So handily for the DUP they can enact a review of the appointments procedure, and they can rely on that not impacting who they choose to appoint themselves.

  • joeCanuck

    OK, Neil.

    Part of the lack of transparency that I’m struggling with are the “rules”. Are there any? For example, how many SpAds can a party or Ministry have?

  • “There is no transparency that I can see around the process that gets people appointed and we are talking about tax payer money”

    Joe, there appears to be little transparency about the SpAd role in governance either. I wonder when Sir Jon Northridge’s report will be published and whether or not the SpAd’s role as a go-between in the Minister-Permanent Secretary relationship will be mentioned. Ministers have minders too and some of them look a bit like night-club bouncers! Once again few questions are being asked about power-plays within the governance process and the potential fear factor.

  • romolampkin

    Why do special advisors still exist, when virtually all the departments (okayas far as I am aware SF/DUP) now all have private secretaries, or essentially junior ministers? Especially when they are all from the same party? Worst example of cronyism ever.

  • Limerick

    “His brother (for obvious and good reason) hates everything SF stand for – he more or less said they should get on their knees, repent and criminalise the ‘struggle’. That will be how SF supporters read it.”

    That is the crux of the matter right there. In the parallel universe which republicans live in the crimes which they carried out were not in fact criminal. Therefore they do not like it when their crimes are pointed out to them in black and white.

    Any human sympathy that they might feign for the victims of their criminal activities quickly evaporates if the victims have the temerity to call them crime.

    People who vote for Sinn Fein, but who do not dwell in their parallel universe really need to take a long hard look at themselves. The Sinners themselves need psychiatric help.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Limerick:

    Who has said that it is acceptable for unionists to appoint ex paramilitary figures to things?

    Um, the fact that they did it and none of the unionists who are currently complaining about the Travers appointment raised any objections ?

    Mary Travers has repeatedly said that she can accept the fact that terrorists have been elected into office. Her problem with McArdle is that she was not elected into anything. She was appointed to her job without any mandate. Kirkham was an elected politician.

    Kirkham was not elected as Mayor. He was appointed. By the DUP. The UPRG had no other councillors at the time, so there is no question that there was any kind of mandate.

    I say whataboutery because you plucked an irrelevant story from six months ago

    The story is entirely relevant. We are all being subjected to lectures from pious, righteous know-alls about the bad morals behind supporting a process whereby ex-paramilitary figures are appointed to certain jobs. Yet unionists did exactly this themselves, less than a year ago. So how can they speak credibly on this matter ?

    and launched it into the middle of a conversation about a Provo murderer being appointed to a Spaad job.
    You claim to be anti Provo, so at the minute only you know your motivation for doing so.

    I keep explaining what my motivation is, the trouble is that it doesn’t seem to be getting through. I will repeat it one more time for the slow learners. I want to understand why it is apparently not an issue when unionist appoint ex-paramilitaries to things, but there is a massive outcry when republicans do the same thing. Does that make sense to you ? If not could you please outline the parts you’re having trouble with ?

    Btw they are not similar scenarios at all.

    I knew eventually I’d get you to justify the appointment of a leading UDA figure as a deputy Mayor.

    If Kirkham had been convicted of a murder

    It’s interesting that you seem to be implying that a conviction is some sort of prerequisite for anything. Gerry Adams was never convicted of a single thing, however there can be no doubt about exactly what he was responsible for in his role as a leading IRA figure.

    and had been appointed to a highly paid unelected government job in spite of the complaints of his victim’s family then you might have a point.

    What are you saying here exactly, that none of the UDA’s victims had any problem with a Kirkham’s appointment ? Were they even asked ? Or were they ignored because the media as well as the politicians here don’t think it is necessary to account for loyalist victims in the same way that republican victims are accounted for ?

    Especially if he stubborny clung onto his job despite being well aware of the huge hurt he was causing.

    The UDA have murdered hundreds of people. You reckon all of the remaining relatives are quite OK with having one of their representatives appointed to a council job ?

    It would also help if he had publicly boasted about how happy he was about what he had done.

    I don’t see how that changes anything. Either you accept appointing ex paramilitaries to jobs, or you don’t. I can hardly see how Mary Travers would have been any less hurt by an absence of this bragging.

  • Comrade Stalin

    People who vote for Sinn Fein, but who do not dwell in their parallel universe really need to take a long hard look at themselves.

    And here we go again. By this logic, do DUP voters need psychiatric help given that they have endorsed (a number of times over) a party which escalates ex-paramilitaries who have no regret for their actions into positions of prestige ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick:

    I have to confess to being puzzled as to how 90% of this thread relates to even 5% of what I have written above.

    Is it really that hard to see what my point is ? I don’t know how I can make it any clearer. Does some sort of weird mental block kick in when people discuss loyalists and their relationship with unionism, and the parallels this has with the republican side ?

    Politically, this is uncomplicated. A party employed spad and the deal which allowed Tommy Kirkham take the Mayorship of Newtownabbey is nowhere near the same order.

    What’s the difference ? The whole reason why this is a news item is because there are questions over why people associated with serious crimes should be appointed to posts in public office. Why isn’t it appropriate to raise the question of why loyalists – and the large unionist parties who sponsor them – don’t undergo the same level of scrutiny that is applied to Sinn Fein ?

    I have no problem, by the way, with the detailed examination into Sinn Fein’s approach and the whole way these people are appointed. My problem is that nobody got all outraged when unionists did the same thing. What can we conclude from that ? That this is simply a media frenzy which has been taken up by politicians for purely political purposes – and that Mary Travers is being cynically used as a political football.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Maybe what we need is an analogy.

    Limerick : “your dog took a shit on my lawn. Don’t let him do it again!”

    Me : “well, I figured it was OK, your cat took a shit in my back yard a few weeks ago. ”

    Limerick : “Hey, stop with the whataboutery already! We are clearly talking about your stupid dog, not my cat! Anyway, cat shit is easier to clean up and I didn’t hear you complaining”

    Me : “all I want to know is whether we should both agree on whether or not pets should be allowed to shit in neighbours’ gardens or not. ”

    Mick : “I don’t see what you guys are arguing about, we are clearly talking about your dog”

    Limerick : “but – it’s a completely different situation. Your example was a cat, mine was a dog! It’s totally different! Just admit it, you love letting your dog shit in other people’s gardens! You’re a dogshit cheerleader!”

    Me : “No I’m not, I hate it when animals shit in people’s gardens”

    Limerick : “You’re only pretending, you send your dog around here every night”

    Me : “Sigh. Is there a sane planet I can go and live on ?”

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    I made several substantive points. Here’s the first:

    “Politically, this issue is going nowhere. Sinn Fein has a veto on any changes to the arrangements for special advisors. And besides, the appeal Ann Travers is making is a moral, a not a political one.

    “Sinn Fein would be well advised to stand their ground over any external pressure to dictate whom they can and cannot appointed as political advisors to their Executive team. It is an independent function no party should surrender to its rivals.”

    The second was that the attempted murder of the Travers opened up a path later taken by the so called Red Hand Defenders.

    Third that we should demand consistency from our politicians in how they handle the past.

    And finally that victims be should handled with decency. Not sure how you get to dog and cat Sh!t from that?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The analogy I made isn’t anything to do with victims. It’s to do with the way that the debate is being conducted – which is similarly nothing to do with respect for the victims.

    As to your other points, we are mostly agreed, of course it’s not going anywhere. Robinson’s review is purely an attempt to gain political capital out of the whole thing. Which is the whole reason why the thing is being debated. My responses on this thread haven’t been aimed at you, my problem is with the people who are up here on a self righteous soapbox – we’d all be a lot better off if people would look in the mirror from time to time.

  • “Robinson’s review is purely an attempt to gain political capital out of the whole thing.”

    Idle speculation, CS; you could just as easily have said he was kicking the problem into the long grass.

  • Mick Fealty

    Now, perhaps you understand my puzzlement, CS.

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    The cat wasn’t mine, and it shat in your garden six months ago. Quite a long time after your cat Marty and all his little friends crapped all over the entire neighbourhood.

  • Lionel Hutz

    CS,

    But quite alot of this is looking in the mirror. Many of the posters are nationalists.

  • Limerick

    Comrade,

    I took the time to read your lengthy rant, and I conclude that as your motivation is not to try to direct the bad look off the Provos then it is certainly to try and divert some of it onto unionists.

    If you are opposed to former paramilitaries being elected to positions of power then why are you not directing your anger at Sinn Fein. They are the largest nationalist political party in Northern Ireland and the former officer commanding PIRA is currently the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

    Why are you complaining about a mayor who was a former paramilitary when there is a convicted mass murderer sitting in the mayor’s chair in Limavady? Something about which you have nothing to say?

    Btw how do you know that I had nothing to say when Kirkham became mayor? What possible relevance do you think his election six months ago has to the appointment of McArdle?

  • Limerick

    “People who vote for Sinn Fein, but who do not dwell in their parallel universe really need to take a long hard look at themselves.

    And here we go again. By this logic, do DUP voters need psychiatric help given that they have endorsed (a number of times over) a party which escalates ex-paramilitaries who have no regret for their actions into positions of prestige ?”

    Comrade,

    I think they should take a good look at themselves. Thankfully though the unionist community does not vote en masse for terrorists in the same way that the nationalist community does.

  • CS

    The only thing my mirror shows me is advancing wrinkles and that’s depressing enough for me. Since when has one partys immoral appointment been carte blanche to another? In a civilised society such an appointment would have made headlines and political opponents would have been falling all over each other to put the boot in first. The shocking thing about the north is the silence from those who should be insisting such appointments are never made again.

  • joeCanuck

    The two things that we can say with confidence from this thread is that there are still a lot of unhealed wounds and that we have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves a “normal” civilized society.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Mick

    Personally I think (as a moderate Nationalist) that SF should not have made this appointment. However, IMO, Comrade Stalin’s point is very apposite.

    The media and Unionists can’t beat SF hard enough with this particular stick.

    As much as I feel for the Travers family, they are being used as political football.

    I don’t see the BBC rushing to interview the victims of UVF/UDA violence when an ex “loyalist” paramilitary is appointed – or any outcry from Unionists here or anywhere else.

    It’s blatent hypocrisy – and frankly, some of those Unionists complaining don’t give a sh!t about the Travers family any more than they did the McCartney family.

    I believe that this appointment is wrong and should be recinded. However, I’m sickened by the hypocrisy of some of those who are complaining and their completely phony concern for the Travers family.

    I agree that the feelings of relatives should come first and hopefully there will be a system introduced whereby this won’t be allowed to happen again.

    However, that will only work if it applies to both “loyalists” and Republicans. That will certainly upset some Unionists who are very big on such standards when they are applied to Republicans but strangely don’t have the same qualms when it comes to “loyalists”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Monk,

    What kept this a story for two weeks was the powerful witness of the victim, not media bias. In fact the media has been running a regular ‘ex prisoner in society’ theme right from the start.

    But any such rule changes that prevent the appointment of ex prisoners would affect SF only since they are the only party doing it.

    They even have Jackie McD using the argument I used here (http://sluggerotoole.com/?p=48814) a week ago saying they ‘owed’ Ms McArdle a future.

    This principle was conceded in 1998. Too late to shut the stable now!

  • dwatch

    ‘MP in first DUP call for McArdle to resign,’
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk:80/news/local/mp_in_first_dup_call_for_mcardle_to_resign_1_2751834

    Lets see if his party leader and all other DUP elected representatives follow in Jim Shannon’s footsteps.

  • Neil

    I think with regard to the bias shown when dealing with Loyalists and Republicans actions, it’s fairly clear what the craic is. We know that no-one is threatening to tear down the institutions here because of the UDA/UVF continuing to hold weapons and exist as organisations. Funny how the efforts that were directed towards IRA decommissioning didn’t really apply themselves to Loyalists quite so much. Even after decommissioning and disbanding Loyalists refused to believe it saying they needed proof the AC didn’t exist any more. Adams offered a picture of them ‘not meeting’.

    And we also know that IRA members (though in all likelihood not sanctioned by the AC) most likely were responsible for the deaths of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn. The same level of attention over the UVF murder in broad daylight on the Shankill a couple of months back? No chance. It was the UVF, it doesn’t matter. Can you imagine what would happen if the PIRA as an organisation murdered someone today? Stormont would be gone in a heartbeat. UVF murder? Nothing to see here.

    The truth of the SPAD situation is that yes SF can kill off any proposed changes to our system here, and they will as other party’s get to appoint who they like to these roles (generally party hacks of good standing in the party) but when SF do the same thing the papers go wild.

    SF are a party with a well documented history so it comes as no surprise that a lot of people over the age of 25 in SF are ex IRA. So either SF is subject to the same rules as everyone else and can appoint party members to these roles, and in doing so there’s a reasonable chance that the person in question may be an ex prisoner; or the rules have to be changed for everyone. No party wants the freedom to appoint who they choose taken away, so Robbo can make a bit of noise and know that the situation will remain thanks to his good buddies in SF.

    The other thing I’d add is to say of course it’s a party honours system – what else would it end up being? The parties are given the freedom to choose so anyone sane actually thinks that the parties are going to choose non party lifers for these sweet well paid roles are barking up the wrong tree. And as mentioned above, Robbo’s a shrewd man. The ability to reward hard working party members without it costing money to the DUP would appeal to him I reckon.

  • dwatch

    ‘Indeed, it was Trimble who once argued that “just because you have a past doesn’t mean you can’t have a future”.’
    ’ALEX KANE: Sinn Fein still making tragic mistakes’
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk:80/community/columnists/alex_kane_sinn_fein_still_making_tragic_mistakes_1_2746992

    Indeed Alex, but what I would like to ask Trimble (now a Tory Peer) if a child sex offender served a sentence for their crime, surely they likewise have a future. But would Lord Trimble agree that he/she should be allowed to teach children after leaving prison?

    My point of argument is if a person commits murder for their political beliefs (like the child offender commits a crime against children) should they likewise be allowed to work in a high profile job for a political party, after being released from prison?

    More controversy on the said subject.

    ’UUP behind prisoner releases’
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk:80/community/letters/uup_behind_prisoner_releases_1_2751854

  • Neil

    http://info-wars.org/2010/01/10/a-list-of-child-sex-offenders-inside-the-british-government/

    I would imagine being a Tory peer he’d keep schtum on the subject. He wouldn’t want to offend the many perverts he’d be rubbing shoulders with.

    On your point, if we may extrapolate, anyone who has a conviction for politically motivated violence shouldn’t be allowed a political career you say? Does that apply to all political violence or just that which you disagree with? Say for example the good people of Libya?

    The truth is that political violence occurs the world over. The winners usually end up in power. I don’t think anyone would argue that the people in Libya don’t deserve their place at the negotiating table having risked their lives to get rid of Ghaddaffi.

    Unionists abhor political violence. Unless it’s perpetrated by the British Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or going back further about half of the planet back in the good ole days when the Brits did their best lootin’.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    Your last first. There’s a problem there only if the parties are using it as an ‘honours’ system. By which I mean, as a reward for past services rather than doing stuff for them now which makes them better at their job.

    To be honest it’s very hard for us to do that. I don’t have much to say on most of their performances, bar DRD that is, because for the most part it is a confidential matter between the Minister and his spad.

    I do query the manpower needed to run OFMdFM, but on the whole, I am on the side of public reps getting all the help they can to manage and push into shape the permanent government. That said, I think we ought to be told why a non executive department needs eight spads and a junior minister (ten departments to oversee from above?)…

    In answer to your first point Neil, it comes down to this. Sinn Fein has had hard executive power since 1999, the UVF don’t. If it is the fourth estate’s job to speak truth unto power they have an obligation to speak to those with power.

    The compelling aspect of the McCartney story was not the tragedy of what happened, but the political complications arising from. I talked about that to Al Jazz’s People and Power special on that subject about 8 mins in:

    Frankly, it is this that makes a complete nonsense of CS’s comparison with some grubby deal in Newtownabbey BC with the £80k appointment at DCAL.

  • dwatch

    http://info-wars.org/2010/01/10/a-list-of-child-sex-offenders-inside-the-british-government/

    Neil, you are twisting words to suit. So where does it say any of the above child sex offenders mentioned tried to get employment as teachers of children?

    “The truth is that political violence occurs the world over. The winners usually end up in power.”

    The IRA was and still is a ruthless murderous Terrorist organisation listed here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_designated_terrorist_organizations.

    So please confirm how many of these Terrorist organisations on this list ended up in power do to their murderous acts of violence.

  • Neil

    Neil, you are twisting words to suit. So where does it say any of the above child sex offenders mentioned tried to get employment as teachers of children?

    You said: Indeed Alex, but what I would like to ask Trimble (now a Tory Peer) if a child sex offender served a sentence for their crime, surely they likewise have a future.

    I said: I would imagine being a Tory peer he’d keep schtum on the subject. He wouldn’t want to offend the many perverts he’d be rubbing shoulders with.

    So I’m twisting nothing, a synopsis of our coversation thus far: you’d like to ask a question regarding paedophiles of Trimble. I replied he wouldn’t want to talk about it, being surrounded as he is by the various sex offendors in British government. Simple.

    So please confirm how many of these Terrorist organisations on this list ended up in power do to their murderous acts of violence.

    LOL make it easy for me why don’t you. Organisations don’t end up in power, members of organisations do. Like numbers one and three on your list, the ANC (heard of them before?) and Abu Nidal Organisation (an offshoot of the PLO). That’s from the first three entries so, not having the time to trawl through every organisation on the list I’d say your point is pretty much shot to shit anyway.

    Once Libya calms down the ‘terrorists’ will be in power. So too Egypt. So too will Syria (hopefully). It’s already happened in NI, South Afrika, Palestine etc. etc. etc.

  • dwatch

    “Unionists abhor political violence. Unless it’s perpetrated by the British Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or going back further about half of the planet back in the good ole days when the Brits did their best lootin’.”

    Neil, the British Army’s Involvement in the places you mention has been supported by INTERNATIONAL LAW in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations.

    I repeat, the IRA was and still is a ruthless murderous Terrorist organisation listed here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_designated_terrorist_organizations.

    Pray tell me Neil, when did INTERNATIONAL LAW and United Nations ever support these terrorist organisations including the IRA in their 3 decades of campaign of murder in Northern Ireland like they did with Ann Travers’s sister back in 1984?

  • The McCartney sisters were articulate and passionate in defence of their brother but tbh the outcome, notwithstanding the PIRAs alleged offer to murder Mr McCartneys murderer was as obvious then as this case is now.

    Tbh I don’t understand how ‘republicans’ can be so willing to overlook murder especially when its committed in their own community. The idea that some could be thinking ‘Who do they think they are? of the McCartney sisters’ is repellent.

    The truth is the man who murdered Mr McCartney is still out there and therefore still a very dangerous person and the people at most risk are the ones in the murderers own community. It doesn’t make sense.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Pippakin,

    I dont get it either? Its an amazing reaction that I cant even begin to empathize with. Normally, I can empathize with most things but I jsurt do not understand this type of reaction.

  • Neil

    Dwatch,

    May I ask your opinion on the discussion we were just having just two minutes ago? You made a couple of points, I responded now you’re talking about something else entirely? Would it be too much to assume that you’ve realised you were in error providing a list of proscribed organisations and asking how many members of such are now in power? And that you accept no twisting of words was necessary regarding the comments regarding sex offendors in Westminster? Just kind of like to finish one discussion before starting another, and it appears you’re off on a tangent. You accept that members of the ANC, PLO, IRA etc. are now in power and that the rebels of the Arab spring will hopefully be soon?

    On to your new argument:

    Neil, the British Army’s Involvement in the places you mention has been supported by INTERNATIONAL LAW in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations.

    You’re again on pretty shaky ground here. It’s a commonly held perception that the Iraq war was illegal (sexed up dossiers, lies about WMD, dead professors). Many countries are now concerned that the military actions in Libya overstep the amrk considerably. The other elephant in the room being my reference to the many countries ravaged back in the empire building days. Given that the UN was founded in 1945 I would imagine your statement that they provided support for the British in their empire building is well wide of the mark.

    I repeat, the IRA was and still is a ruthless murderous Terrorist organisation listed here:

    I never disputed that. You did however suggest that member sof organisations on that list were not in power, contrary to what I was saying. Amusingly having the ANC as no. 3 on your list kind of killed that point stone dead. And the PLO. And the RA. And presumably numerous others.

    Pray tell me Neil, when did INTERNATIONAL LAW and United Nations ever support these terrorist organisations including the IRA in their 3 decades of campaign of murder in Northern Ireland like they did with Ann Travers’s sister back in 1984?

    Again, stick to what I actually did say. Where did I state that the UN and international law supported these organisations? I did not. I simply stated the fact that members of politically violent groups and uprisings tend to be in power after they win. Your links back that statement up. You’re the one talking about the UN and international law. I’m talking about facts.

  • dwatch

    ‘The other elephant in the room being my reference to the many countries ravaged back in the empire building days.’

    Neil, the other elephant in the room is your naive and narrow minded knowledge of empire building days. The British Empire was no different to other European, Middle Eastern, Asian & African Empires over a period of 2/3000 years.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Limerick:

    I took the time to read your lengthy rant, and I conclude that as your motivation is not to try to direct the bad look off the Provos then it is certainly to try and divert some of it onto unionists.

    No “diversion” is necessary. The truth of what happened and the hypocrisy is all there. It’s just not being discussed.

    If you are opposed to former paramilitaries being elected to positions of power then why are you not directing your anger at Sinn Fein. They are the largest nationalist political party in Northern Ireland and the former officer commanding PIRA is currently the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

    Why should I bother explaining if you’re not reading what I said ?

    I already said – I don’t know how much more simple I can make this, do I need to put it in big print ? – that I can accept former paramilitaries being elected to things in the interests of forwarding the wider political process. I don’t like it but I have to accept it given the mandates involved and the “realpolitik”. Some ex-paramilitaries regret what they did, although they might not admit it. Still others do not want to see their children growing up in the same environment and want to try to help to make that happen – both sides. That’s something I am happy to take at face value.

    My problem is – I have repeated this so many times it’s starting to bore me as well as everyone else – the idea that only SF’s appointments of this nature are subject to scrutiny, whereas apparently the DUP and UUP can do it regularly without being subjected to the same scrutiny. It all ties back to being part of a dangerous and disingenuous narrative that I see here which peddles the idea that unionism was as white as the driven snow and never picked up a weapon and that the republicans were the only drivers of the conflict. I am not saying that unionism deserved to be attacked; but simply that unionism and republicanism are two sides of a coin that was far, far too quick to resort to using bloody violence and intimidation (with matters being more complex on the unionist side due to its ingratiation with the State). We can’t properly address the matters that we are all discussing here – all the stuff about truth, repentance/remorse, and so on while there are some people who feel that their meddling or flirting with paramilitarism yields nothing that they have to apologize for, and feel that they can lecture others on their past and their morals while refusing to countenance discussion of their own.

    Why are you complaining about a mayor who was a former paramilitary when there is a convicted mass murderer sitting in the mayor’s chair in Limavady? Something about which you have nothing to say?

    Absolutely right, I have pretty much nothing to say other than what I have already said, which is that having people with paramilitary pasts involved in the running of our country, based on their mandate, is the price we chose to pay – indeed I chose to pay when I voted “yes” – as part of getting a wider process in place that would secure long term peace and stability. There are certainly days when I question it, but it’s too late to row back even if I wanted to do so.

    I do not – I never have – post long rants about ex-paramilitaries in government or doing jobs except to illustrate hypocrisy. I see no need to argue the point as the whole thing was dealt with 15 years ago.

    In terms of my own views on the morality of the whole thing I see no difference between the guy in Limavady and someone like Ian Paisley, who stood shoulder to shoulder with loyalist paramilitaries all his life, threatened police officers and participated in a mass demonstration during which threats were made to kill British soldiers in Drumcree 96. I see no difference between holding a gun and pulling the trigger, or exhorting a person to do the same. But I am happy to move on in both cases.

    Btw how do you know that I had nothing to say when Kirkham became mayor?

    Given that nobody said anything about it except Alliance’s Tom Campbell I think it’s pretty likely. And anyway, I can tell from the self-righteous tone of your contributions. I’ve heard it all before.

    What possible relevance do you think his election six months ago has to the appointment of McArdle?

    I already answered that. Why are you asking me again ? I explained that it is relevant because it exposes the hypocrisy of people who claim to have the moral high ground on paramilitarism. What’s so hard to take in about that ?

    Kirkham’s election was actually about a year ago. His court summons and arrest threat was six months ago. The reason why the court summons is relevant is because surely an elected public official being threatened with arrest over refusing to co-operate with the processes of law and order is a problem that can’t be overlooked, and indeed wouldn’t have been overlooked if he had been in SF.

    pippakin:

    The only thing my mirror shows me is advancing wrinkles and that’s depressing enough for me. Since when has one partys immoral appointment been carte blanche to another?

    I am not arguing that there is, or should be, carte blanche. I am complaining about the fact that some people get away with it and not others. There is serious hypocrisy afoot.

    Mick:

    Frankly, it is this that makes a complete nonsense of CS’s comparison with some grubby deal in Newtownabbey BC with the £80k appointment at DCAL.

    No, you haven’t made that case, Mick. I don’t see why the fact that there is an £80K salary is anything to do with the fact that two parties both installed ex-paramilitaries – one became a media sensation, one did not. I do not see how Ms Travers feelings over the reawakening of her grief would have been any way assuaged by a change either in the salary or to whether the appointment was at local or regional level.

    Perhaps you are making a point that is more nuanced than I can take in at this hour, but I really see this as a simple matter – is it right, or is it wrong, for political parties to voluntarily appoint ex-paramilitaries to public bodies or public sector jobs ? You can’t say, well, it’s OK if the job pays less than £10K per year, or that the guy was voted in as a councillor.

  • dwatch

    ‘How evil revenge cost Mary Travers her life’

    The 1984 killing of a prison governor may have started the sequence of events which ended in the murder of a magistrate’s daughter, writes former detective Alan Simpson

    Saturday, 11 June 2011

    As a retired detective superintendent and former deputy head of CID for Belfast, I am moved by the plight of Ann Travers, who is undergoing a most distressing episode in a greatly dignified manner.
    This was brought on by the tactless appointment of Mary McArdle to a senior position with Sinn Fein at Stormont. Ms McArdle played a major role in destroying Ann Travers’ family by being a principal participant in the murder of her sister, Mary, and the serious wounding of her father, the magistrate Tom Travers.

    The squalid episode began for me on March 6, 1984, when I was called to the scene of the murder of assistant prison governor William McConnell outside his home in east Belfast.

    He was in the process of checking his car for booby-traps before leaving for work at the Maze when two men ran across from the house opposite and shot him dead.

    I led the investigation into William McConnell’s murder and it transpired that the night before, a gang of two males and one female had taken over the house opposite, imprisoning the elderly couple who lived there.

    When Mr McConnell emerged around 8am, the two male terrorists ran across the road and carried out the murder, while the female prepared to drive them away in the pensioners’ car.

    As the result of extremely hard work by my murder squad, a few days later I charged three men with the killing. They appeared before Tom Travers at Belfast Magistrates Court.

    I gave evidence that I believed I could connect all three with the murder. Their solicitor, the late Oliver Kelly, then subjected me to an acrimonious 15-minute cross-examination in an effort to persuade the court that there was insufficient evidence to remand the accused in custody.

    Tom Travers ruled in my favour and the three accused were duly remanded. None of us – except, perhaps, the three men in the dock – realised he had potentially signed his own death warrant.

    When the three men had been arrested, a 1984 diary was found on one of them which was completely blank except for the five dates immediately preceding William McConnell’s murder.

    Whatever had been written on these dates had been heavily obliterated by ballpoint pen. But forensic scientists managed to remove the ink, revealing what appeared to be coded messages.

    We painstakingly deciphered the codes, which led us to the east Belfast home of retired civil servant Owen Connolly, his wife Margaret and daughter Carmel.

    Owen Connolly admitted operating an IRA safe-house and carrying out surveillance on William McConnell.

    Margaret Connolly admitted washing wigs the killers used as disguises. Carmel Connolly admitted knowing her house was being used for a sinister purpose.

    Within a month of William McConnell’s murder, the Travers family were stalked on their way home from Mass by an IRA assassination gang. Mary was shot dead and her father seriously injured.

    An RUC patrol scoured the surrounding area and found Mary McArdle, the epitome of a well-dressed, middle-class Malone Road resident, walking a small dog, but to her misfortune was found to have the murder weapons concealed on her person.

    One of these was a Ruger .357 magnum revolver, which had fallen from a policeman’s holster during a riot in Andersonstown and quickly found its way into the hands of the IRA.

    They regarded it as something of a trophy and, in spite of having an extensive armoury of handguns at their disposal, used it to murder Judge William Doyle in January 1983 as he left Mass.

    It was also used to murder three soldiers, two policemen and a civilian, as well as William McConnell and Mary Travers.

    While she was being held at Castlereagh, I wondered if Mary McArdle could have been the female terrorist who assisted in the murder of William McConnell, so I went to have a look at her by positioning myself on a landing which she had to pass through when being moved by her jailers from her cell to an interview room.

    Not surprisingly, she caught on that I was up to something and gave me the proverbial look that would kill. But she didn’t seem to fit the description of the terrorist I was after. I have long since known whom that person is.

    I am convinced that the attack on Tom Travers and his family was in direct retaliation for the firm stand he had taken on the first court appearance of the three men I had charged with the murder of William McConnell.

    I had given evidence in Tom Travers’ court many times and he struck me as a man of great principle and compassion whose sole aim was to serve the public.

    When he had recovered sufficiently from his injuries, he identified a man whom he believed to be one of the gunmen who had attacked his family that fateful Sunday morning.

    When the case came to trial, Tom Travers was subjected to a withering cross-examination and he broke down in tears several times in the witness box. The accused was later acquitted.

    I am deeply touched by the great dignity being shown by Ann Travers. It is hard to believe that Sinn Fein are acting other than disingenuously by appointing Mary McArdle to a position carrying a taxpayer-funded salary of £78,000 – three times what a senior nurse in one of our hospitals would earn.

    At a moment in our history when the visit to the Republic by the Queen seemed to go so far in healing old wounds on both sides, we all need to be that bit more thoughtful and tactful in our public actions to keep us on course for a more peaceful future.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/how-evil-revenge-cost-mary-travers-her-life-16010305.html#ixzz1Oxnp71FQ