Adams should ‘go extra mile’ and give closure to victims

PACEMAKER BELFAST   Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams pictured outside the party's HQ on the Falls Road in January 1984
PACEMAKER BELFAST Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams pictured outside the party's HQ on the Falls Road in January 1984

Gerry Adams – who steps down today as Sinn Fein president – has been urged to do the right thing and give closure to IRA victims’ families.

In an interview with the Press Association [carried opposite] Mr Adams said he regrets that it took until 1994 for the first IRA ceasefire. However Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984, has said he “has it in his remit” to “go that extra mile and acknowledge all murder was wrong”.

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA in 1984

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA in 1984

Mr Adams has always denied having been a member of the IRA, although in an interview last Sunday for BBC Television he said: “I have never distanced myself from the IRA.”

Ms Travers, inset, said: “When I look at Gerry Adams on my television screen I often wonder about the secrets that he chooses to keep. Many of those secrets would help families reach closure – gaining the final jigsaw puzzle pieces needed to get the answers to the questions surrounding their loved ones’ murder or disappearance.”

On April 8, 1984 Ms Travers’ father Thomas – a judge – was attacked by the IRA as he left mass with his wife and daughter Mary, who lost her life in the gun attack.

Ms Travers added: “As I see Gerry Adams court the media and begin his guest speaker circuit, I would like him and those that invite and interview him to remember those stolen lives and the families left behind.

“He has it in his remit to acknowledge that not one single life was justified to be taken.

“He has it in his remit to facilitate families so that they get answers and he has it in his remit to ensure both the dead and the living get justice.

“He has done none of this while president of Sinn Fein, perhaps now he will do it in his retirement.”

Ms Travers felt the only thing Mr Adams has “done right” during his presidency is “encouraging the IRA to stop murdering”.

She added: “He needs to go that extra mile and acknowledge all murder was wrong – without saying things like ‘we all lost somebody’ or ‘it was a war’. It diminishes the memory and good name of the injured and deceased.”

She added: “Unfortunately many don’t trust him because they don’t believe him when he says he wasn’t in the IRA. He will only gain that trust by acknowledging people’s right to life and work.

“No life needed to be lost from any community. Politics and democracy is the only way to solve anything.”

She said new SF president Mary Lou McDonald has not done herself any favours by attending a commemoration for an IRA bomber in Castlewellan recently.

“That’s where Sinn Fein’s arrogance comes in,” she said.

“They refuse to acknowledge that peace and civil rights would have come about through legitimate means.

“Murder was wrong and can never be justified. By attending such a commemoration she immediately alienated those who are IRA victims and all right-minded people who abhor violence.”

Around 2,000 delegates are expected to gather at the RDS in Dublin today for the ratification of Mary Lou McDonald as Mr Adams’ successor. Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O’Neill, will be proposed for vice-president.