Ann Travers: “a peace and reconciliation centre where they expect victims of crime to go to in a prison”

Ann Travers was interviewed today by David McCann and Kerri Dunn, presenters of the weekly On the Record politics show that is broadcast on Lisburns 98FM community radio station. You can listen to her interview in two parts.

Ann has been at the middle of the process around the SPAD Bill, working with both Jim Allister and the SDLP.

I’m up in Derry at the EBN Congress – strapline: digital, cultural & social innovation – so haven’t transcribed long sections of the interview. But the following quotes should give you a taste of what she said.

On her sisters death:

We were torn apart, completely torn apart. The only people who would really speak about Mary was Mum and Dad…we were so overcome with grief

On victims speaking out:

There is this fear that whenever you speak out, that you are going to leave yourself open to abuse.

On hearing Mary McArdle’s appointment:

I felt physically sick, I felt like someone had come and ripped my stomach out. My initial reaction was sheer panic…Here was a woman…who had done so much to damage our life…for a few minutes all I could think of was that my mother was going to be contributing in some way through her taxes to her daughters murderer.

On SPAD Bill:

…in this appeals process they have to show contrition and remorse and….to help the police with the investigation in any way.

On her alliance with Jim Allister:

I don’t agree with all of Jim’s politics. In his heart he is doing this, I believe, with the very best of intentions….I don’t feel used at all.

On what could be done for victims:

…they need to look really carefully at their language…they need to be sensitive towards victims…they need to show consideration and respect towards them…encourage them and allow them, if that’s what they want to do, to tell their stories.

On the Maze development:

I can’t understand why any normal human being, thinking in their right mind, would want to have a peace and reconciliation centre where they expect victims of crime to go to in a prison.

On victims speaking out:

people have said…and rightly so that my story and my voice has been heard a lot over the last twenty four months….but for 27 years I didn’t say a word.

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  • GavBelfast

    Such an impressive person, and isn’t that last quotation a really telling and powerful one?!

  • Barnshee

    Sadly NI does not elect the Ann Travers of this world

  • redstar2011

    Whilst one has to have sympathy for all victims and relatives including Miss Travers, lets not kid ourselves that her crusade, noble and right though it is, is for all victims. Her mentor Mr Allister wouldn’t stay associated with her were she to be inclined towards seeking justice for victims of state murder.

  • GEF

    Next we will see Ann Travers standing for election for an Independant seat. With the recent publicity surrounding her interviews on radio & TV, ending with an important SPAD bill being proposed by Jim Allister and passed at Stormont would all be a big plus if she stood for and MLA’s post.

  • Maybe a recruit for Basil and John.

  • DC

    I liked her comment on the Maze, at best the Maze should be flattened and at worst it should be a stand alone prison focusing on that particular piece of history not wrapped up and sold to tourists as a reconciliation project / centre, particularly while our elected representatives have not yet reconciled nor found a way to get the truth out.

    Basically there is no truth and reconciliation yet so while build a centre pretending there is?

    On the whole, well said Ann T.

  • socaire

    Still have a niggling feeling that victims from the leafy suburbs rate a bit higher on the victim scale. How does she think my relations feel about an element of their taxes being used to succour murderers in the State Forces who murdered their loved ones.Like a good footballer, Ms Travers, as a good media person, is not qualified to pontificate on much else. Her grief and loss is no greater than any other’s.

  • Glenn B

    Ann is a tenacious, authentic, honest wife and mother who, as a victim of PIRA violence, had chosen to move away from here & rebuild her life.

    Given the circumstances of her sisters murder (a completely innocent Catholic girl leaving Mass) and the attempted murder of her mother (another innocent) during the assassination attempt on her Magistrate Father, it was political folly, and downright crassly insensitive for Sinn Fein to appoint Mary McArdle who participated in the murder of a local innocent young woman.

    Rather than recognize their misjudgement of what is / is not morally acceptable at this time & make a shuffle, Sinn Fein wallowed in elitist judgmental propaganda pronunciations that incited, and inflamed the matter beyond the singular hurt of Ann Travers.

    The SpAd Bill is no doubt a hastily, badly conceived bit of Law however given the prelims that created it, I can see why it has happened.

    I view the Bill in the long term as a vindictive piece of repressive legislation that attacks the due process of justice in that ANY prisoner who has served his time, and paid their debt to society will still face inequality in being denied this job opportunity.

    I also find it incredulous that Unionist Parties who state they represent Loyalist Communities would deny a size-able segment of those communities by introducing legislation that means former Loyalist ex-prisoners cannot be appointed as SpAds to advise them.

    The introduction of this draconian piece of Legislation will affect a handful of employed Sinn Fein advisers. Given their role in the process of peace I am lost how any of them losing their job will help support victims, the process or the local Government?

    I respect Ann Travers and hold her in very high regard. Like her I’ve been a victim of PIRA violence but a Bill that denies any ex prisoner a job opportunity is not the answer to Victims issues nor does it address the gross stupidity of Sinn Fein in misjudging the moral mood.

  • BluesJazz

    “that attacks the due process of justice in that ANY prisoner who has served his time, and paid their debt to society will still face inequality in being denied this job opportunity.”

    So..Glenn B, you would presumably have no problem employing Mark Bridger when he gets out of prison? That’s the sort of people we’re talking about.

  • socaire

    No! That’s the sort of people YOU are taking about.

  • DC

    Glenn B which political party currently in power is about to appoint loyalists with a terrorist-related conviction or would like to, but is now no longer able to because of this?

    Remember these are appointments, not employment.

    Loyalists cannot put themselves forward as such but instead need to be selected by a party and this is a totally different arrangement than employment where if jobs become available you can apply to whichever employer you want and attempt to be recruited via an open recruitment process.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    The fact that loyalists meekly accept whatever scraps the unionist political establishment choose to reward them with, rather than demanding an equal say as republican ex-prisoners do, is hardly an indictment of nationalism.

  • DC

    What unionist political establishment?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The one that convened the “unionist forum” and invited all the loyalist paramilitaries to participate in it.

  • DC

    That’s a forum not a political establishment.

    There might’ve been one up to 1972 or thereabouts. After that it’s been each to their own and now we have the most representative assembly in the UK and minority groups have the best opportunity going for them to get elected and to grow in size – if the message can be made appealing enough and be sold to more people.

    The old unionist establishment has been replaced by insatiable republican entitlement some of it misplaced as set out above but also things such as two national flags or bust – ‘joint ownership’ rather than all *party* government, SF do not jointly own NI in partnership with the DUP just because OFMDFM is set up that way, they are political parties operating inside an NI regional assembly, not sovereign king and queens.

    But if the bill goes through then i guess some limits have been imposed on this.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Let’s just nail two pieces of nonsense

    Firstly, nationalist ex-prisoners have a “say” only because large numbers from the nationalist community vote for a ‘party’ that grew from a terrorist organisation and contains many people within it who have been convicted of some of the most heinous crimes.

    It is not the “unionist political establishment”, whatever that may be, that denies loyalist ex-prisoners an “equal say”. It is the unionist electorate who denies them simply because they don’t vote for such people.

    Secondly. Allister’s bill has no impact on employment practices outside of the Spad appointments.

    It should also be remembered that Spads are very unusual jobs in themselves. No advertising, no published required candidate experience and qualifications, no open recruitment, outside the remit of employment equality legislation etc.

    Perhaps those seemingly so eaten up about fairness could address themselves to the nature of Spad employment practice?

  • That’s a forum not a political establishment.

    I haven’t commented on Slugger for quite a while. But I couldn’t let that one pass. Almost split my sides laughing at such disingenuosity.

  • DC

    And also take the history of SpAds too, a recent development, arising out of the apparent need to inject energy into tired old civil services operating within *mature democracies* and allegedly tainted by a long history of working hand in glove with other political parties, rival political parties in an adversarial first past the post electoral system. I am thinking Britain and used by New Labour in particular after years of the Tories.

    But when it is imported and tried in NI’s infant all party democracy, a highly representative democracy, you get former terrorists popping up as special advisers rather than Jon Powell ‘i’ve worked in the white house’ types lol.

    In fact SpAds are arguably controversial things as some political scientists object to them as a nuisance and interference to the way the civil service ought to operate, in the media suspicions are that SpAds distort the civil service, make it partisan, rather than help – and in NI you now have double controversy: an of dubious merit political appointment dictating to the civil service and a former terrorist to boot.

  • DC

    Laugh away Joe, laugh away:

    The Establishment is a term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation or organization.

    The only power unionists have today is that power tied up with nationalists and no one seems to be playing ball. So there are no crumbs. There’s just a table and no one is eating and nothing of substance is being served because nothing has been prepared for the pot.

    Although some foodstuffs and ingredients have been spotted on the work top.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC, don’t you think you’ve kind of lost the argument if the best you can do is pull out your dictionary ?

    sonofstrongbow:

    Let’s just nail two pieces of nonsense

    Firstly, nationalist ex-prisoners have a “say” only because large numbers from the nationalist community vote for a ‘party’ that grew from a terrorist organisation and contains many people within it who have been convicted of some of the most heinous crimes.

    Yes. Let’s keep things simple and refer to it by its proper name, namely “democracy”.

    It is not the “unionist political establishment”, whatever that may be, that denies loyalist ex-prisoners an “equal say”. It is the unionist electorate who denies them simply because they don’t vote for such people.

    Sssh, don’t mention Sammy Douglas. And of course the crowner of the lot, Ian “there’s going to be a civil war and Protestants should arm themselves” Paisley, closely related to Ian “don’t come running to be if they burn you out of your houses” Paisley.

    But Sammy and Ian aside .. how come Willie McCrea feels the need to cavort in public with leading loyalist paramilitaries in public, and Peter Robinson feels the need to invite them along to meetings at the drop of a hat. Why ? Nobody votes for these people – why is anyone even talking to them ?

    Secondly. Allister’s bill has no impact on employment practices outside of the Spad appointments.

    I know it doesn’t. But the point is that the only SpADs it effects, or is ever likely to effect, are republicans.

    It should also be remembered that Spads are very unusual jobs in themselves. No advertising, no published required candidate experience and qualifications, no open recruitment, outside the remit of employment equality legislation etc.
    Perhaps those seemingly so eaten up about fairness could address themselves to the nature of Spad employment practice?

    I hate to burst your disingenuous bubble, but none of those characteristics are unusual. Your local sweet shop operates under the same rules and most political parties do too. Almost none of the employment legislation applies to anyone who employs less than ten people.

  • DC

    Well actually it is from Wiki but should i just quote out of the Book of Comrade and nod along with you!

  • Monty_Carlo

    What Nolan,nor any journalist, has asked Anne Travers yet, if SF stood Mary McArdle for a seat in either, Westminster, the Asshables or council, would that be okay if she got elected?

  • Mick Fealty

    She volunteered it herself with Joe Duffy on RTE Liveline, in the very first interview I heard her speak in… That was two years ago…

    Again something her critics fail to take account of, is the very modesty of her own demands, and the modest demands of the Bill…

  • Ciarán

    I’m not sure I would characterise having your revenge set in law as modest.

  • David McCann

    Monty

    If you listened to the interview you would hear that we did ask her that it’s in part two towards the end.

  • sonofstrongbow

    CS

    Keeping on with the nonsense then?

    It is I’m sure surprising to you up there in your lofty tower but we mere mortals do know what democracy is.

    Btw it was not me who argued that a political ‘say’ was given as a gift by an “establishment”.

    Sammy Douglas and Paisley: is that as good as you get? Perhaps in your world you equate the UUP or the DUP with SF. Perhaps they are on par with elected members convicted for terrorist offences. Perhaps there is a widespread conspiracy to hide that information from the public.

    For example, perhaps a leading politician from the DUP is a convicted bomber. Perhaps they sat through an interview on TV blandly telling us how they shot an unarmed prison officer in the face. Perhaps the footage of that Duper’s interview was left on the cutting room floor. Conspiracy at play again I suppose.

    Perhaps you’ll let the cat out of the bag and start to name names? (the two you’ve come up so far is a pretty tame start) Keep the list manageable, restrict it to murderers and those using firearms and/or explosives. Ok?

    Will it “only effect republicans”? Why so? You allude to alleged criminality within unionist political parties. That being your case why would they baulk at appointing murderers as Spads?

    Surely you can’t be suggesting that unionists operate to a different set of standards?

    I’m not particularly interested in the employment profile of my “local sweet shop”. It’s not a publicly funded body and, I may be wrong here, but I don’t think it’s involved in the governance of the country. i also expect that given that it has to make its own way those owning it and working there are knowledgeable about running a small business.

  • Mick Fealty

    The provisions are very modest. If we were to characterise it as ‘revenge’ on a Northern Irish scale it is both modest and humane. As Lionel Hutz points out the provisions of the law allow for employment given ‘remorse’.

  • Barnshee

    ” The bad guys are the ones who were convicted. The guys who shouted orders and then ran away (Paisley) or the guys who did bad things and then repented (Douglas) are to be forgiven or considered to have an inconsequential role in the violence.”

    The “bad guy” should have served ALL their time -prod or mick- Paisley was arrested and served time (-not enough time in my book) Repentence is welcome – after the appropriate time has been served

  • Comrade Stalin

    Again something her critics fail to take account of, is the very modesty of her own demands, and the modest demands of the Bill…

    The only problem I really have with the bill (aside from the background within which it is being introduced) is that it is not being done as part of an agreed process.

    We are creating a political process where parties will simply grab an opportunity to screw the other parties (or the other “side”) when they get an opportunity. It’s not going to go well after the next assembly elections whenever SF manage to obtain 30 seats and the right to move their own Petition of Concern motions in cases like this.

  • Morpheus

    “It’s not going to go well after the next assembly elections whenever SF manage to obtain 30 seats and the right to move their own Petition of Concern motions in cases like this.”

    You beat me to it CS. I was just about the make the same point:
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/47/section/42

    The principle behind the bill is sound in my opinion but the SDLP have shot themselves in the foot by permitting a piece of legislation to progress that they openly believe to be flawed.

    SF will be able to brush this off – so far I have heard of only 1 person who will be affected by the retrospective aspect of the bill. The real losers will be the SDLP who will lose even more of the middle ground on the nationalist side.

  • Niccolo

    C S

    I’m not quite sure from what you’ve written….

    ….do you consider the likes of Paisley and Douglas to be on par with elected members convicted for terrorist offences?

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    What’s going to change? Wow, no more legislation. Yep, there’s a blow for the reputation of the NI Assembly. I agree it will not be good, but how will anyone notice?

    FF and FG will, of course, notice. And I fully expect they will be horsing this one around the southern legislature before the next election is out.

    The SDLP will lose more ground if they keep on refusing to sell their own virtues or take their own success as already read.

  • Mick Fealty

    Back on topic, there’s an interesting passage at 6 minutes in on the second tape…

    There is a Sinn Fein special advisor who could lose his job. My reply to that would be that Paul Kavanagh can use the same appeals process that anybody can if he helps the police.

    You know victims didn’t get an appeals process. Paul Kavanagh’s three victims who were blown up, a father of two small children, an 18 year old boy, and a middle lady, did not get any appeals process. My sister did get an appeals process. Thousands of victims didn’t get it.

    One minute they were alive, the next minute they were dead.

    Also this legislation brings it into line with all over the world. I don’t know of any other place where, fifteen years on from the Good Friday Agreement where you have this elite group of people gifted a position of £90,000 a year.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m not quite sure from what you’ve written….

    Don’t worry, you’re not the first. A lot of people have difficulty with nuances.

    ….do you consider the likes of Paisley and Douglas to be on par with elected members convicted for terrorist offences?

    No I don’t.

    I’m pointing out that by this logic, and the logic that Jim Allister’s bill works with, a 17 year old who had threw at the police a grenade pushed into his hand by a bitter old men shares responsibility for the conflict, while the man who made scores of blood and thunder speeches urging people to rise up, who helped to start and sustain the conflict by blocking and overturning every attempt to reach a settlement, is completely innocent of blame. This is bollocks.

  • son of sam

    Mick
    You mention that certain Southern parties will be pricking up their ears at the passage of this legislation.Are you aware of any parliamentary aides to Sinn Fein T D s who might have criminal records for terrorist offences?