McGuinness quits: IRA victim’s sister wishes him well

Martin McGuinness with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns in 1988
Martin McGuinness with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns in 1988

A victims’ campaigner whose sister was murdered in an IRA gun attack said she hopes Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has a speedy recovery from his serious illness.

Ann Travers’ sister Mary was shot dead as she left a Catholic church service in south Belfast in 1984.

Ms Travers became an outspoken critic of Sinn Fein when the party appointed one of those involved in the murderous attack, which also left her magistrate father Tom Travers seriously injured, as a highly-paid special advisor at Stormont.

However, on hearing that Mr McGuinness was stepping down from frontline politics due to an undisclosed condition, she said: “He is going to have a tough time going through heavy duty treatment for his illness.

“Hopefully when he recovers from that and feels strong enough, he will also feel strong enough to reach out to those [IRA] victims who perhaps he could help and give answers to.

“I hope he gets the care and attention he needs. Having been through a life-threatening illness myself I understand how tough it is.”

She added: “I would never wish anyone any harm. All I want for families of the victims is that they have peace of mind, and how they will get that is through getting answers.”

Ms Travers said the status of Mr McGuinness within republican circles means he could deliver for victims and their families.

“I know that Martin McGuinness has said in the past that he lives by the [IRA’s] ‘green book’ – and that there’s stuff he can’t say because of that – but I would hope that with such a serious illness, that the time he’s going to have off to fight it and recover, he will have a lot of reflection time ... and through that reflection he will be able to do something to help the families.”

Ms Travers also described the collapse of the Stormont institutions as “deeply disappointing” for terror victims.

“I feel really sad for the people of Northern Ireland. I think that until the victims issue is sorted you are always going to have that simmering discontentment,” she said.