SPADS BILL TO BECOME LAW

Ann Travers told by HET that the IRA planned to wipe out her entire family in 1984

Ann Travers told by HET that the IRA planned to wipe out her entire family in 1984

ASSEMBLY members will vote on Monday on a controversial bill that will prevent ex-prisoners from becoming Stormont special advisers.

TUV leader Jim Allister proposed the legislation following the controversial appointment of Mary McArdle in 2011 as adviser to Sinn Féin Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

Ms McArdle was convicted of involvement in the IRA murder of 22-year-old Mary Travers, the daughter of Resident Magistrate Tom Travers.

The school teacher was shot dead as she left a Catholic Church in south Belfast in 1984 by an IRA gang.

Last week, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which reviewed the murder file, said the IRA planned to wipe out the entire Travers family during the shooting.

McArdle vacated her post in March last year following a campaign by the victim’s sister, Ann Travers.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP opposed the bill during its further consideration stage, after a number of proposed amendments were rejected.

Former special advisor Mary McArdle convicted of murdering Mary Travers

Former special advisor Mary McArdle convicted of murdering Mary Travers

Despite initial suggestions, the SDLP announced they would not sign a petition of concern which would block the bill in Stormont, after meeting with Ms Travers in private.

Leader Alasdair McDonnell said his party members would be abstaining at Monday’s vote.

Sinn Féin were seeking to lodge a petition of concern to force a cross-community vote. With only 29 party members, they required at least another MLA to acquire the minimum of 30 signatures.

As unionist assembly members are set to support the bill, and the SDLP abstaining, it is likely to be passed with a majority vote.

Under SPADs legislation, one of the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness’ special advisers, Paul Kavanagh, will lose his job.

He served 14 years in jail for his part in an IRA bombing in England in 1981.

There 18 SPADs working at Stormont, paid salaries between £60,000 and £90,000 per year.

And there eight working in the Office of the First and deputy first minister (OFMDFM).

 

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