NEW MEP Martina Anderson has revealed all of Sinn Féin’s four Stormont Special Advisors (SPADs) live in Londonderry including her husband Paul Kavanagh who was convicted of carrying out IRA bomb attacks in London in the 1980s and is now paid between £36 and £90k to advise Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The Sinn Féin candidate to replace Bairbre de Brún at the Espace Léopold pointed out that former Derry News editor Mark Mullan, former Daily Ireland journalist Jarlath Kearney and Conor Heaney - all living in Londonderry - are also full time apparatchiks at Stormont.
Sinn Féin declined to provide biographical details of the four special advisors and also declined to provide precise details of how much they were being paid, although the Sentinel understands they qualify for the £36k-£90k pay band.
The Sentinel also asked if the party had been asked to remove Mr Kavanagh as a SPAD in the wake of the Mary McArdle controversy. The party said it had not been asked, nor had it considered removing him.
In her acceptance speech as replacement to Bairbre de Brún in the Schuman district she revealed the heavy concentration of republicans from the city in positions of influence in Belfast.
She said: “All of the SF Ministers Special Advisors are living in this city - Paul, Conor, Mark and Jarlath.”
Mr Kavanagh is Special Advisor to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness; Conor Heaney is Special Advisor to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill; Mark Mullan is Special Advisor to Education Minister John O’Dowd; and Jarlath Kearney is Mary McArdle’s replacement as Special Advisor to Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
She referred to the support of her family including husband Paul Kavanagh who was jailed for life in 1985 for his part in the bombing of the Chelsea barracks.
She commented: “That encouragement and support was reinforced by the man in my life - my friend, comrade and husband PK.”
Mr Kavanagh was jailed in 1985 alongside Thomas Quigley for carrying out a bombing campaign in the UK capital including the Chelsea Barracks bomb which killed two passers-by and injured 23 Irish Guards.
During her speech Mrs Anderson highlighted at least 13 Sinn Féin members with links to the city - including the four SPADs - now occupying key positions in Northern Ireland’s corridors of power.
“And as I narrow down my gaze to the look particularly at the Derry ones – I see the important contribution that we in this city are making to our party and struggle and like everyone in this room no part is too great or too small: Martin McGuinness - is the joint leader of the Executive; all of the SF Ministers Special Advisors are living in this city - Paul, Conor, Mark and Jarlath; four MLAs – Mitchel (McLaughlin), Raymond (McCartney), Martin (McGuinness) and I; ten Councillors; 2 of the 6 County Press officers - Dominic and Dale; Party Chair Declan Kearney lives in Derry; The Vice Chair of the Cuige Cliona O’Kane is from Derry; and we have hundreds of Activists lead by Andrew McCartney, PAs, drivers, supporters.”
She said her Departure for Brussels would be a massive opportunity to represent Sinn Féin on an international stage.
Sinn Féin has previously claimed the appointment of SPADs from the city keeps Londonderry at the heart of Government.
But since the controversy over the appointment of Mary McArdle as advisor to the Culture Minister there has been friction between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the matter.
This culminated recently when Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said he would refuse to pay Park-native and former journalist Jarlath Kearney because he had not undergone a security check.
Mr Wilson said: “The latest Sinn Féin nominee has not met with the guidance and therefore the public purse will not pay for that individual. I do not know whether the individual would have got through the security vetting or not.
“It has not been applied for and if it has not been applied for then the guidance has not been adhered to and therefore payment will not be made from the public purse. Sinn Féin can make a decision as to whether or not it wants to adhere to the rules.”