SDLP U-turn a victory for victims

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA almost 30 years ago, and Jim Allister,TUV leader, listen to SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell speaking to the media at Stormont, Belfast.
Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA almost 30 years ago, and Jim Allister,TUV leader, listen to SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell speaking to the media at Stormont, Belfast.

An SDLP U-turn on the Special Advisers Bill shows that Troubles victims can effect change, Ann Travers has said.

A week after the SDLP suggested it would help Sinn Fein block the law to ban killers from being publicly-funded ministerial advisers, the party yesterday backed down after a campaign by Ms Travers and internal disillusionment with its stance.

Last night Ms Travers said that the law was the first concrete victory for victims of terrorism since the Good Friday Agreement and said that it may “encourage people like me to speak out — politicians have to listen and start to realise victims aren’t going to go away”.

Ms Travers said that she had campaigned out of “pure love” for her sister Mary, murdered almost 30 years ago by a gang including Mary McArdle, whose appointment as a Spad led to TUV leader Jim Allister’s bill.

But, amidst her joy at the SDLP’s change of heart, Ms Travers wept as she told the News Letter of the abuse — some of it unprintable — which she has been subjected to on the internet in the last 48 hours.

Ms Travers said that “disgusting” messages by some republicans had been posted to her social networking accounts but that other republicans had privately supported her against the “bullies”.