THE row over the SDLP’s decision not to oppose the SPADs bill rumbles on this weekend.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness launched a broadside against the party on SAturtoday following his return from China on a trade mission with Peter Robinson.
The SPADSs (Special Advisors) Bill have its third and final reading in the Assembly on Monday, June 3.
It has been drafted by TUV leader Jim Allister after IRA woman Mary McArdle was appointed as special advisor to the Sinn Fein Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.
McArdle was jailed for life for her role in the murder of judge’s daughter Mary Travers who was shot dead by the IRA in 1984 as she left a Catholic Church with her family one Sunday morning.
The bill proposes that anyone with a serious conviction with a sentence passed of five years or more in prison cannot work as a SPAD.
The SDLP originally said it would support a Sinn Fein petition of concern to block the bill becoming law.
However, following outrage from Ann Travers, the sister of Mary Travers, and from former party stalwarts Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers, the SDLP hierarchy back-tracked and decided that it would not oppose the bill even though it still had misgivings about the legislation.
Ann Travers said she was “pleased” with the party’s decision.
On Saturday, Martin McGuinness tweeted: “Very disappointed that the SDLP have been picked up by the tail and swung around by the Anti Agreement TUV while I was out of the country!!”’
Earlier in the week, north Belfast Sinn MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly said: “The SDLP is joining with all of political Unionism in discriminating against ex-prisoners of war from the conflict.
“It is anti equality and anti the Good Friday Agreement.”