Victims campaigner Ann Travers has paid tribute to the daughter of another Catholic judge shot dead by the IRA who has fought a long battle against cancer.
Frances Doyle’s father William Doyle was killed by the IRA after leaving midday Mass at St Brigid’s Church at Derryvolgie Avenue in the Malone area of the city on 16 January 1983.
Fifteen months later Ann’s father Magistrate Thomas Travers was also shot by the IRA with the same weapons after leaving the same church. He survived but his daughter Mary - Ann’s sister - was also targeted and died.
By a strange coincidence William Doyle was shot on the birthday of Ann’s father - a fact made all the more poignant since the two lawyers were also good friends.
Ann told the News Letter she met Frances, or Frannie, in Donegal the summer after her father had been killed.
“When people mentioned Frannie I always felt a connection with the family because her dad was dad’s friend and because dad knew him for such a long time,” Ann said.
Ann said it was ironic that both she and Frannie had suffered breast cancer - although Ann has successfully fought hers into remission.
“It is just such a terrible disease. It shows why more money must be poured into tackling it.”
Of Frannie she said: “She was just a lady who enjoyed life to the full. Dad was very upset by her father’s death. The IRA shot him on dad’s birthday.
“I remember her father being shot at mass. I heard the shots and thought it had been dad.”
She soon found out it had been Frannie’ father who had been killed outside the church. However Fifteen months later Ann’s father was shot outside the same church.
Frannie has been described by her family as a gifted artist, charity worker, mentor, justice campaigner and socialite. She had been adopted by her family.
Her husband Rory Mills said: “She was very close to her father and to be honest I don’t think that to the day she died she ever got over it.”
He also revealed that his 50-year-old wife kept the seriousness of her illness secret in a bid to stop friends and family worrying about her.
Such was her popularity across all social and religious divides, that queues of people appeared to say goodbye to her in hospital.