So, just a quick tidy up on the outstanding issues around the SpAdBill, namely employment rights. Daithi McKay, who has played point on this issue over the last year or two has suggested that:
“Members of staff could potentially lose their jobs, and that is not what we should be legislating for in the chamber, in the Assembly. We should be legislating for jobs, not taking away jobs.”
As it happens, the narrow terms of the bill will only have a direct effect on one person holding down a job as a Special Advisor in Stormont. Paul Kavanagh, understandably, was not happy:
“I can’t speak for all victims, I don’t understand all victims, but I can speak (for) my own family because we had a brother who was killed, so I understand that feeling of loss.
“But to say you are taking your lead from Anne Travers or any of the other victims, well, I don’t understand how now passing bad legislation will help victims,” he said.
“We ended up in this state because of discrimination and excluding people, and this just appears to me to be more of the same.”
Lost Lives is rather coy in directly associating his name to his IRA volunteer brother’s death ‘in disputed circumstances’ by the RUC. But it is clear that Mr Kavanagh and his wider family have had their own experience of grief.
Ann Traver’s responded directly though to Mr Kavanagh’s plea to decouple the cause of victims from his own employment rights in her interview with David McCann and Kerri Dunn (6 mins in):
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.
It’s not a popular opinion in the mainstream media, some of whom take the approximate view that any changes ought to be done by maximal agreement up to and including, what Micheal Martin likes to call the establishment parties.
Given that only one political party is likely to affected by this legislation and that Sinn Fein already neatly sidesteps any negative effects by taking the bulk of the £90k salary attached for general party purposes. The worst that can happen is that Mr Kavanagh won’t be going on the next NI only trade mission to China or Brazil.
So the law is more of an assurance to victims than a punitive measure against one particular party interest. Although as Jim Allister himself put it, whilst the effects may be particular to SF, the application is universal:
“This legislation applies to all serious criminals, be they rapists, be they fraudsters or be they terrorists, but of course, Sinn Fein are interested only in protecting the interests of their own. They have turned it into something you would think only applies to them.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty