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N.I. law would block ex-paramilitaries from being ministerial aides

June 4, 2013 at 12:42 AM   |   Comments

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, June 4 (UPI) -- The Northern Ireland Legislature Monday passed a law that would bar some former paramilitaries from serving as special advisers to provincial ministers.

The measure was adopted 56-28, The Irish Times reported. The vote was not held until after 8 p.m. because a Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly spoke against it for 2 hours.

The law applies to anyone who was convicted of a paramilitary offense and sentenced to more than five years. That includes Paul Kavanagh, a special adviser to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein who was convicted in the 1980s of killing three people in a bombing.

Jim Allister, the leader of Traditional Unionist Voice and sponsor of the bill, referred to the bill as "Ann's Law." Ann Travers, whose sister Mary Travers was killed by the IRA in 1984, campaigned against the appointment of Mary McArdle, who served 14 years for her part in the killing, as a special adviser to a Sinn Fein minister.

Sinn Fein argued the law violates the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. The other major nationalist party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party, abstained.

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