David Norris criticises Maíria Cahill over ex-dissident links

Norris says sisters of murder victim Robert McCartney urged further questioning of Cahill

Independent Senator David Norris has criticised the Labour Party’s candidate for a vacant Seanad seat, Maíria Cahill, for refusing to answer questions on her former links to a dissident republican group.

 

Independent Senator David Norris has criticised the Labour Party’s candidate for a vacant Seanad seat, Maíria Cahill, for refusing to answer questions on her former links to a dissident republican group.

Ms Cahill has come under pressure to detail her membership of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU), most recently from the sister of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney.

Criticising Ms Cahill, Mr Norris said: “Questions have been raised about her involvement with dissident republicans. There has been no explanation whatsoever.”

Mr Norris said Ms Cahill had declined to take part in media debates most recently on RTÉ’s Late Debate and to answer questions on the issue. He said the sisters of Mr McCartney, murdered outside a Belfast pub a decade ago, had urged questioning of Ms Cahill.

In a letter to TDs and Senators, the only persons who can vote in the Seanad byelection, Catherine McCartney said she objected to Ms Cahill’s nomination because of her past RNU links.

Last year, Ms Cahill, a grandniece of late IRA leader Joe Cahill, said she had once been involved with the RNU, but had always been opposed to violence. She had been its national secretary for “a few hours” in 2010, but resigned.

Not accepted

Ms Cahill’s explanation was not accepted by Ms McCartney: “This cannot be regarded as a minor issue or an irrelevance to the appointment to a political office.”

Labour leader Joan Burton proposed Ms Cahill to contest the Seanad byelection following the resignation of Donegal senator Jimmy Harte, who suffered significant head injuries in a fall in Dublin in 2013.

The result is due to be announced on Friday. A Labour spokesman said: “Maíria Cahill has addressed her brief involvement with RNU on numerous occasions in the past, and on the public record.”

The spokesman said Labour was proud Ms Cahill was the party’s candidate.

Ms Cahill has alleged she was raped by an IRA member and had to face her alleged assailant in a republican-style court. A vocal critic of Sinn Féin, she came to attention following a BBC Spotlight programme.