Schoolchildren should hear victims’ stories, says Travers

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA almost 30 years ago.  Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA almost 30 years ago. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

A woman whose sister was murdered in an IRA ambush has told a victims’ conference that the stories of those bereaved during the Troubles should be told to schoolchildren to highlight the consequences of terrorism.

Ann Travers, whose 22-year-old sister Mary was murdered on April 8, 1984 by IRA gunmen who were trying to kill her magistrate father Tom Travers, spoke on Wednesday at Steps to Reconciliation, an event which is part of a series marking the 40th anniversary of Glebe House, a Strangford centre for peace and reconciliation activities which was created as a response to turmoil and sectarianism in the mid-1970s.

Other speakers included Mairia Cahill, who was allegedly raped by an IRA man and subjected to a protracted IRA interrogation, and Raymond McCord whose son was murdered by the UVF in 1997.

Ms Travers said during the event the speakers told their stories and gave their own viewpoint on reconciliation.

“Another issue debated was the pension for victims, which of course led to the question of what a victim really is,” 
she said.

“I believe the pension should be available for innocent people who have been severely injured, but I do not believe people who were injured should have to wait for politicians to decide whether they are entitled to it or not.

“I don’t believe that someone who chose to go out and plant a bomb should be entitled to a pension from the state. That is a nonsense to me.”

Ms Travers said she believed schoolchildren could learn from listening to victims whose “trauma does not stop at the funeral”.

“They should see how during the Troubles individuals were also psychologically affected by what happened by losing out on their education, experiencing relationship problems, addiction problems, eating disorders and other issues.”

On Wednesday it was reported that Ms Travers is set to take part in a summer school event next week, which will also feature ex-IRA bomber Patrick Magee.

Mr Magee was responsible for the Brighton bombing of October 12, 1984, when the group tried to kill Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet members. She survived, but five others perished as a result of the attack, for which Mr Magee was jailed.

He is expected to be joined at the event by Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, who died as a result of the attack.

Mr Magee and Ms Berry have toured the UK for years to give talks about their backgrounds, with a view to encouraging others to “appreciate the humanity of their opponents”.

One such talk in east Belfast in 2014 led to hostile scenes and street disorder.

The event is scheduled to take place as part of the XChange Summer School programme, running on Thursday and Friday at Londonderry’s Magee campus of the University of Ulster.

The Friday timetable indicates that the day will begin with a panel discussion on austerity, adding: “Following this, we will hear personal responses to bereavement through the Troubles from Jo Berry, Patrick Magee and Ann Travers.”

Raymond McCord to sue Government

Victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF in 1997, has said he is going to “take the British Government to court for war crimes”.

Speaking at the Steps to Reconciliation event, Mr McCord, pictured, said his son’s murder ruined the lives of family members.

A Police Ombudsman report, Operation Ballast, upheld a complaint from Raymond McCord that over a number of years police had acted in such a way as to protect informants from being fully accountable to the law.

Mr McCord said: “I want to bring the Government to court over war crimes against my son and the other victims of informers working for the Government as well. I would like to invite other victims’ families to join me in trying to get truth and justice for our families.”