Mary Travers
Mary Travers was 23 when she was gunned down by the IRA in a Belfast street on her way home from church

I was just 14 when wig-wearing IRA gunmen attacked my parents and sister as they walked home from mass on 8 April 1984. One shot my 23-year-old sister Mary in the back and she fell into our mother's arms, knocking her to the ground. As Mary lay dying, the same gunman calmly walked over, put the gun to mum's forehead and pulled the trigger. Miraculously the bullets jammed in the chamber.

The second gunman shot dad – a local magistrate – six times, standing over him as he lay on the ground and leaving him critically injured. They ran away and gave their guns to an accomplice, Mary Anne McArdle, who was later jailed for her role in the murder.

These IRA gunmen were not honourable men, they were murderers, and when I first heard John McDonnell describe the IRA in those terms I was insulted. It made me feel sick. When the comments came out again over the past week with his appointment as shadow chancellor, once again I felt nauseous. It made me wonder what the point of all this is.

I heard John McDonnell on Question Time and I know I have to accept his apology, but what I would say is if you are sorry then prove it, come here and meet the victims.
- Ann Travers

McDonnell and others have argued that if the IRA hadn't carried out its violence then we wouldn't have peace now – what a load of balderdash that is. If the IRA hadn't carried out its violence then I would still have my sister. My children would still have their aunt. I wouldn't have had to watch my father grieve for his daughter for 25 years –until the day he died.

I still remember the day they killed Mary like it was yesterday. My brother told me that my family had been attacked and I remember running down the road hysterical – like a four-year-old rather than the stroppy 14-year-old I actually was.

Mary was lying in the dirt on her back. We know nowadays that you should put people on their side in that situation, but it wouldn't have helped her; the bullet had gone through her aorta.

I could tell you much more detail. I could spend an hour describing it. I remember every second of it. I remember what I was wearing, what I had for lunch, who I spoke to that day. I remember how Mary and mum were. It is all there.

My sister's photograph hangs on my sitting room wall and I look at it every day. She was so happy and so beautiful. She shone goodness. We had arguments; we were sisters. But that day she just shone with love and goodness.

She was excited about life and her new job when she got up that morning, but the men who went out to kill my family got up that morning knowing that they were going out to commit murder and that a family would be grieving that night.

I heard Jeremy Corbyn on the radio during the summer and he was asked whether he thought what the IRA did was wrong. He was at a train station and he said that he couldn't hear the question. Then he was asked again and you could hear him make a noise and then just hang up. He has refused to speak to journalists on that ever since.

For me there is only one answer to that question: you cannot justify murder. Any murder, whether republican or loyalist, the police or the army. People inside or outside the law. There is no justification. Who has the right to take a life?

I heard John McDonnell on Question Time and I know I have to accept his apology, but what I would say is if you are sorry then prove it, come here and meet the victims.

McDonnell and Corbyn have met with Sinn Fein and republicans. They have heard their version, their narrative. But they haven't actually come and met the victims of republican violence. I do believe McDonnell was genuine, but I want to see what he does to back that up. I'd like him to come over and meet the victims of IRA violence, not just as a PR exercise but to really look at it.

I have been criticised in the past for speaking out about my sister's case and I suppose for not moving on but I resent that. For some reason when you speak out against violence people say that you're holding life back. That couldn't be any further than the truth. Innocent victims of terrorism did nothing wrong and yet they are now still being punished and ignored.

I feel like people think: "Oh well, there is peace in Northern Ireland now so we can forget about it." That we have to do everything we have to do to prevent going back to that. But that ignores the people who are living with severe trauma. It wasn't that long ago. I'm 46 and I was 14 when my sister was murdered. I'm hoping to live another 40 years – I could only be halfway through my life.

They have been so anxious to placate and ensure that guns are laid down that they have forgotten about the victims. They think that the victims should just be happy enough that they can live. They thought we would all be so grateful and it would be ok, but no. We still haven't got justice and we still don't have the truth.

Ann Travers is a mother of five and voluntary member of the Victims and Survivors Forum Northern Ireland. She lives in Belfast.