Cahill wins permission to challenge local government address requirement

Former Senator urges Northern Secretary to resolve issues

Máiría Cahill arriving at the High Court in Belfast  on Monday. Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/ Presseye

Máiría Cahill arriving at the High Court in Belfast on Monday. Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/ Presseye

 

A former SDLP councillor has won permission in the High Court in Belfast to challenge a law which requires local government election candidates in the North to publish their home addresses.

Máiría Cahill was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the obligation amid claims it breached human rights and put her personal safety at risk. But with the publication requirement set to be ended, a judge put the case on hold until imminent new legislation is introduced. Ms Cahill, who has a restraining order in place against an individual, was forced to withdraw from last year’s local elections.

She pulled out of standing to retain her seat on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council over the obligation to reveal her address.

A former Irish Labour party Senator before joining the SDLP, she feared it would involve too great a risk for her family. In 2010 she came to public attention by claiming she had been raped as a teenager by a member of the IRA. Waiving her right to anonymity, she alleged that the paramilitary organisation carried out its own inquiry and forced her to confront the man she accused of attacking her. Ms Cahill brought judicial review proceedings against the Northern Ireland Secretary of State in a case where she was backed by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

In the Belfast High Court on Monday it was confirmed that cross-party support has been secured for new legislation abolishing the requirement for electoral candidates to publish their home addresses.

Outside court Ms Cahill welcomed the decision and urged the Secretary of State’s team to resolve her issues. “They have to recognise the harm that has been done,” she said. “It wasn’t my decision to stand down from a job I was doing well, I had to basically sack myself because their legislation wouldn’t allow me to carry out that public service.”