Wednesday, 14 March 2012
That Mary McArdle move
The last time I wrote about Mary McArdle, I got abuse - some spoken, some silently acted on - from those in high places and in conspicuously low places. So it's with my sinews, such as they are, stiffened that I tiptoe towards the topic again.
Mary McArdle, you'll remember, was convicted for being part of an IRA unit that attempted to kill Judge Travers on his way home from Mass. They wounded the judge and they killed the judge's daughter Mary, who was with him. Mary McArdle was appointed a special advisor to the Sinn Féin Minister for Culture, and a campaign was mounted to have her removed, with the voice of Anne Travers, Mary's sister, most frequently heard. It didn't succeed. Or at least not at the time - McArdle has in the last couple of days been moved to another post within Sinn Féin. Anne Travers declares herself delighted that she's achieved a victory for her dead sister, and now calls on Mary McArdle to divulge the names of those who were on the mission with her.
I could repeat for the umpteenth time how horrible it must be to lose through violence a member of your family, but can we take that as read? Hundreds, thousands of people here have experienced it over the past forty years and the pain they live with is immense. The question is, was Mary McArdle forced out of her job because of pressure by Anne Travers? Probably not. Had McArdle resigned in the heat of the media onslaught, the answer would have been different. But the fact is, the case has sunk to the back of the public consciousness. My guess is that McArdle was moved primarily because a gap occurred elsewhere in the Shinner organisation which they believed McArdle could fill effectively. At some secondary level, they may have felt that it might indicate that, while they're not prepared to be dictated to, they have sensitivity about the matter. If Anne Travers feels entitled to claim that as her victory, fine.
What's she's not entitled to do is to start another campaign to have Mary McArdle provide the names of the other people who were with her that day. Which she shows signs of doing: "Now I would just like it if Mary McArdle could just find it in her heart...to tell me who else was involved in Mary's murder and the attempted murder of my parents". She clearly wasn't listening when Martin McGuinness at the Saville Inquiry and numerous other republicans made it clear that they will not give information about their comrades in anything short of a full truth and healing engagement involving all sides, including the British state and its forces. Now there's a campaign that might have merit.