Máiriá Cahill joins SDLP as Lisburn councillor

Sinn Féin critic for former Labour senator vows to ‘engage with unionists’

Máiría Cahill is joining the SDLP and will be co-opted on to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. Photograph: Alan Lewis/Photopress Belfast

Máiría Cahill is joining the SDLP and will be co-opted on to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. Photograph: Alan Lewis/Photopress Belfast

 

Máiriá Cahill, the former Labour Party senator from Belfast, is to become a local authority councillor in Northern Ireland as a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

Ms Cahill (37), whose allegations of rape by an IRA man and claims she was subsequently subjected to an internal IRA kangaroo court-style inquiry, convulsed Sinn Féin, is being co-opted on to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council.

Ms Cahill, a grand niece of the late IRA chief of staff Joe Cahill, a close associate of former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, disclosed her rape allegations and subsequent treatment by members of the Sinn Féin/IRA organisation in October 2014, causing considerable political difficulties for Mr Adams, who was strongly supported by his eventual successor, Mary Lou McDonald.

Ms Cahill has since then been subjected to what she calls “relentless abuse” on social media by republicans, many of them members of Sinn Féin.

Ms Cahill has shown a facility for reaching across the North’s sectarian divide, on one occasion attending the 11th Nigh bonfire events by invitation of a Belfast loyalist group. On Twitter, she was congratulated by Dough Beattie, a prominent Ulster Unionist Party figure, and the Ulster Political Research Group. MLA Mr Beattie wished her good luck, to which Ms Cahill replied: “Thanks a million my friend”.

Speaking to journalists, Ms Cahill said: “I will continue to develop real and meaningful engagement with the Unionist community and I look forward to getting stuck into local issues in the Lisburn council area.”

She will replace former SDLP councillor Christine Robb who recently resigned for personal reasons. – PA/Irish Times