Mairia Cahill to contest Seanad by-election for Labour

Victims campaigner has alleged she was sexually abused by a senior IRA figure

Labour leader Joan Burton has proposed victims campaigner Mairia Cahill to contest the Seanad by-election following the resignation of Donegal senator Jimmy Harte.

An email to members of the parliamentary party indicated Joan Burton and Alan Kelly are proposing the west Belfast woman for the seat. "Mairia Cahill is an excellent candidate for Seanad Éireann," the correspondence from Joan Burton stated. "She has joined our party and is committed to supporting our work inside and outside the Oireachtas. She is a person of depth and broad experience."

Ms Cahill (34) is from a high-profile republican family. Her great-uncle, Joe Cahill, was a founding member of the Provisional IRA.

A vocal critic of Sinn Féin, she came to public attention during a BBC Spotlight programme where she alleged sexual abuse by a senior IRA figure and later being subjected to a ‘kangaroo court’ investigation by republicans.


She pursued the matter through the courts but then withdrew her evidence after losing faith in the the North’s Public Prosecution Service. PPS director Barra McGrory subsequently apologised for its handling of the case.

In February, Ms Cahill spoke at the Labour Party national conference after receiving the James Larkin Thirst for Justice Award.

Using Twitter, Ms Cahill confirmed on Saturday evening she would accept the nomination and will now go before the Labour parliamentary party and Central Council for ratification.

The result of the Seanad by-election is due to on November 13th.

If elected Ms Cahill would serve on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.