Xchange Summer School 2015: bravery in the face of challenge #xss15 (updated with audio from Jo Berry, Patrick Magee, Ann Travers conversation)

Living through the challenge of austerity mean that the Third Sector in Northern Ireland will “have to show bravery, take decisive action, be willing to change, celebrate diversity and yes, think the unthinkable” according to the organisers of the Xchange Summer School. The sofa set from the inaugural event in Enniskillen has been traded in and this year’s contributors are sitting around a kitchen table that has taken over the stage of the Great Hall in UU’s Magee campus. Introduced … Read more

The trolling of Ann Travers

The first in a three part series exploring so-called ‘trolling’ and abuse on social media At the beginning of November 2014 it was widely reported that victims campaigner Ann Travers had closed down her Facebook and Twitter accounts following a barrage of online abuse. It’s worth reminding people of the fact that Ann’s sister, Mary, was murdered by the IRA in Belfast in 1984. The target of the ambush was their father, Tom, a resident magistrate. He survived. In 2011 … Read more

On the matter of uncertainty and principle…

With all due apologies to students of quantum physics out there, Brian Feeney’s ‘poetic’ use of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in today’s Irish News (£) to explain the SDLP’s apparent confusion over the last fortnight is too good to resist: The principle suggests that the closer you get to establishing the position of a particle the harder it is to work out the speed of its movement [or rather its momentum – Ed]. Conversely the closer you get to working … Read more

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. listen to ‘Part 1 of @lisburns98's interview with @AnnTravers2 by @KerriDunn & @dmcbfs’ on Audioboo listen to ‘Part 2 of @lisburns98's interview with @AnnTravers2 by @KerriDunn & @dmcbfs’ on Audioboo Ann has been at the middle of the process around the SPAD … Read more

Ann Travers: “If had joined the IRA or a loyalist paramilitary and killed someone, I would be being listened to…”

Ann Travers talks to Wendy Austin earlier on Talkback on the SDLP’s petition of concern that will finally kill the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill. I’ll try and get a better quality recording as and when it becomes available, since for a number of reasons, I think this is an important interview. I’m going to refrain from detailed comment on this though – as you might guess having written a long profile of the political, opposed to the legislative, arguments … Read more

Other reasons for McArdle’s resignation?

Mick has some thoughts on Mary McArdle standing down as a special advisor below. It may have been that Sinn Fein or Ms. McArdle felt the need for her to move on and as Mick says Ann Travers may on UTV have been determined to see it as an act of reconciliation. A slightly different analysis of the situation is presented by the News Letter. Ms Travers said she thought the reason for the timing of the resignation may have … Read more

Thank you Sinn Fein (now how about expanding the shadow of the future?)…

Was the decision to redeploy Mary McArdle from her job as an advisor by Sinn Fein a routine matter of rotating special advisors? Or was it, as the Minister hinted on UTV last night, Ms McArdle’s own decision to move on. Whichever, Ann Travers’ warm words of gratitude suggest that whatever the original intention, she is determined to see it as a small act of reconciliation. There is a lesson worth unpicking here. Whatever is said in public, the Sinn … Read more

“What are Sinn Fein waiting for, more people to die?”

Interesting piece on BBC Spotlight on Tuesday night reviewed controversy over the Travers’ killing of April 1984. In passing at the beginning, it suggests the HET report into the killing of Mary Travers murder came to the conclusion that this operation was a deliberate attempt to kill all three family members. They also carried a statement from Mary McArdle saying “the murder of Mary Travers was a tragic mistake which I regret”. In an impromptu interview with the BBC journalist Julian … Read more