Mairia Cahill, the legitimacy of the Seanad and the vexed issue of political accountability…

So the final votes for the latest Seanad election are cast tomorrow.

The likely winner of that election (the electorate is confined to both Houses of the Oireachtas) is Mairia Cahill, the Labour party candidate who has been conspicuous by her absence from many of the candidates debates on RTE and elsewhere.

That’s because she’s refusing to speak in public to anyone (including our own southern editor Johnny Fallon) about a story we covered last year.

It’s an issue which was largely (though not entirely) met by a statement released to a range of news organisations on the island but only replicated in full here on Slugger.

Ms Cahill has had two problems to face. One is that the internet campaign against her has been vile and personal in parts and (probably by necessity) went way beyond parliamentarians’ legitimate concerns about her past membership of the RNU.

And two, the abiding ignorance of a southern political and media establishment which clearly took little interest in this story when it was big in Northern Ireland last year. [Partitionists! – Ed] Er, you might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

Though here I think the well of sympathy for Cahill as victim of the IRA (and by extension its many hangers on in the media and elsewhere) has some severe limitations.

Again, I’d make two short points. Some of the anger she is facing is from long standing campaigners for reform of the Seanad desperate to give it the democratic legitimacy it blatantly needs. That anger is less focused on the accusations than her refusal to answer as Cahill the politician.

Secondly it must have been well understood by Labour if not by Cahill herself that something of this character would come up given the recent past and Sinn Fein’s reputation for ruthlessness in dealing with its political enemies.

Now dirty tricks were a part of the Irish political landscape long before SF weighed in in the Republic. Whilst journalists must take proper stock of the credibility of some the wilder accusations, there is no substitute to a democratic politician making themselves accountable ahead of acquiring their mandate.

Democracy is a rough business, but the rewards of success can also be substantial. No matter who the candidates are, or indeed what they have been through, the need for accountability cannot be disposed of on purely on the grounds of compassion for previous experience.

The broad and permissive rules of Twitter (and networked bloggers) allow for endless varieties of disruption. On the other hand, as an antidote to a malign and largely artificial virus procrastination often works too.

No one seriously expects that Ms Cahill won’t win the ticket. I suspect that’s why some in Dublin are quietly livid about her ducking this and indeed any other question relating to her bid for the Seanad seat.


Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • steve white

    is it beyond the bounds, of somebody having written a statement, which she thinks deals with questions, to still get follow up questions and be expected to answer them, like you’ve asked, like what date/month in 2010 she was elected as secretary of the RNU?

    why do suggest southern media took little interest in the case,Im not sure that’s true,do you mean the RNU part, I think there still taking little and belated interest in her Seanad campaign and Labour were banking on the media on being too afraid to critically question an abuse victim which is why they nominted her for the Industry and Commerce Panel and few have questioned that part of it.

  • chrisjones2

    On the legitimacy of the Seanead, Wikipediia explains the system as follows:

    “Seanad Éireann consists of sixty senators:

    Eleven appointed by the Taoiseach (prime minister).

    Six elected by the graduates of certain Irish universities:

    Three by graduates of the University of Dublin.

    Three by graduates of the National University of Ireland.

    43 elected from five special panels of nominees (known as Vocational Panels) by an electorate consisting of TDs (member of Dáil Éireann), senators and local councillors. Nomination is restrictive for the panel seats with only Oireachtas members and designated ‘nominating bodies’ entitled to nominate. Each of the five panels consists, in theory, of individuals possessing special knowledge of, or experience in, one of five specific fields. In practice the nominees are party members, often, though not always, failed or aspiring Dáil candidates:

    Administrative Panel: Public administration and social services (including the voluntary sector).

    Agricultural Panel: Agriculture and the fisheries.

    Cultural and Educational Panel: Education, the arts, the Irish language and Irish culture and literature.

    Industrial and Commercial Panel: Industry and commerce (including engineering and architecture).

    Labour Panel: Labour (organised or otherwise).”

    Sounds like a very 1960s Belfast type system.

  • mickfealty

    Exactly that Steve. This was fairly strong feature of SF’s attempt to damage her credibility at the time.

    It’s fundamental weakness is twofold. One it relies heavily on guilt by association with a successor group to SF. And two, it was a group that was in part defined by adherence to mainstream SF policies up to that Ard Fheis in 2007 and remained a matter of considerable internal controversy up until, wait for it, The Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010 (

    To my eye what’s happening is that we are getting washed over by a lot of crud being passed off as real controversy.

    The whole controversy now revolves around how long she was in this umbrella group. Fascinating, but I would argue a largely insubstantial political point that Ms C should be able to clear up in a direct exchange on the matter. IMHO she should not have run if she wasn’t prepared to meet this on the level. And I don’t disagree with your second para either.

  • the rich get richer

    Suddenly lab/fg/ff are not interested in the detail of the republican connections and activity of Mairia Cahill.

    Thats a little unusual for them. They always take such an interest in such matters in relation to others. One would almost be suspicious of their motives.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Oddly enough its roots are in the report of the Irish Convention of 1916, modified by the 1931 Papal encyclical Quadragesimo anno.

  • Granni Trixie

    Surely MC has said and done sufficient since her story broke to convey that she supports the rule of law unambiguously? Is this not the nub of what people are now questioning, albeit strategically?

  • steve white what dates was she involved in the RNU, we still don’t know from her.

  • Mirrorballman

    Having just listened to her interview post campaign with rite Drive time I have one question.

    Is it credible to believe Ms Cahill (who up until she left RNU was involved deeply within republican politics for most of her life) when she says she didn’t know that RNU were a dissident group?

  • steve white

    but the issues isn’t the politics, it the dates, she could clear that up for Catherine McCartney’s sake, perhaps Jerry Beades has misinterpreted the dates, and stirred up some stress for the McCartney’s I can’t really argue he has or hasn’t because its not clear from her when she was still associating with the RNU.One thing I’ve always wondered is why if you are publishing a statement you’ve written, you have another person take a picture of you sitting at a computer.

  • mickfealty

    Just listening to the interview I suspect there are some legal issues complicating some of the aspects you raise there, and I’m not about to speculate about that out of the box.

    Re the picture with the statement, I’m not sure I get your drift? The statement to my understanding was released to a wide range of news organisations. The picture, however, was ours.

    The Firemen also breached the embargo which led to the post being removed for a few hours. This may be why some thought it was an exclusive article rather than a statement.

    We’ve had a couple of bloggers in recent times who have been far too eager to grab headlines and not do the work properly. I caught a lot of grief for that at the time. Very unpleasant.

  • steve white

    I don’t think disagreement with McCartney if thats what you are referring to prevent her from telling the world what the exact date range was of her association with the RNU.

    Why is a person demanding an embargoe on a personal statement?

    How is it you took a photograph of Mairia Cahill?

  • mickfealty

    I didn’t.

  • steve white

    well when you say “The picture, however, was ours.” what do you mean? (btw I did mean the plural you/Sluggerotoole)

  • mickfealty

    Firemen took it I believe…

  • Jack Stone

    I wish we heard more from Mairia Cahill the politician. If she runs for elective office, I hope she is treated like a politician. I am still waiting to hear what changed Ms Cahill’s former positions. It was good to hear her actually articulate some of her current positions. But just saying “I am no longer a Republican” does not explain her previous actions and her recent dissident IRA past. She seems to be using her accusations as an excuse. Also ” Sinn Fein’s reputation for ruthlessness in dealing with its political enemies.” It seems to be coming more from Catherine McCartney (who I wouldn’t consider a Sinn Fein supporter) and Jerry Beades who is a former Fianna Fáil activist.

  • steve white

    oh its from your earlier EXCLUSIVE STATEMENT you published I don’t understand how somebody operating on her own is setting embargoes, Im still wondering why if you are publishing a statement you’ve written, you have another person take a picture of you sitting at a computer.

  • Slater

    Mairia Cahill has changed. Just because she had a dissident Republican past does not mean she can’t have a future.
    For anyone to say “I am no longer a Republican” is a huge reversal.
    The nearest might be someone stating they had given up Islam. And we know what happens to upfront Muslim apostates.

  • steve white

    when did she change?

  • steve white

    going to police around the same time she was in anti-policing organisation? a terrible tricky situation for her but also confusing one for the rest of us trying to assess a politician.

  • Gingray

    It’s still a pretty poor second chamber and the promised reform post referendum has failed to materialise.

    You have extensive experience of political systems, anything you recommend?

    Also cheers for the beef bhuna recipe, very nice indeed.

  • Gingray

    I wonder if as many labour candidates with ties to the official ira got as hard a time.

    Complete disgrace and the behaviour of some sinn fein voters is vindicating labours choice in running her.

    Should be interesting to see if she turns up at Seanad Éireann or not, and we should all be wishing her all the best if she wins.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    It is indeed a poor second chamber, and anyone who voted against its abolition in the expectation of future reform was deluded or deceived. I am a firm abolitionist; there is not much to add to what Noel Browne said in 1957 – except that no other EU member state with a population of less that 10 million has a full-time upper chamber unless it is a federal state (ie Austria and Belgium; the Slovenian upper house is part-time and toothless). The Seanad does not and cannot function as a check on the executive branch, or even as a decent revising chamber, and no government will ever propose or support a reform that would enable it to play that role. The nuclear optiom is the only option.

    In my (unpopular) view, the real answer is to restore independence to the Dáil/Oireachtas by removing the requirement for government ministers to be TDs or Senators. Being a minister is a tough job; being a TD is a tough job. Why does anyone think you get better value by making one person do both jobs at the same time? If the government as a whole can win confidence votes, and ministers are available to be grilled by the legislature, what is the use of a closer link than that?

    I’m very glad the bhuna worked out. I was uneasy about the dry marinade myself, but in practice it worked out fine!

  • Gingray

    There was a guy on the IT podcast, Donal O’Brolchain from Second Republic, making that same point. From a reform point of view it makes sense but it would be like Turkeys voting for Christmas. The Dutch operate such a system, no?

    I had hoped the Seanad could be reformed to include Northern and ex pat representation, but that’s more a reflection on my constitutional politics than wanting a workable system. It really does need to be abolished.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    From the politicians’ point of view, it means more jobs for the boys and girls; from the citizens’ point of view, it means two jobs being done better by two people than both badly by one.

    It’s quite an ancient idea, separating the executive from the legislature, and it’s one area where both the US and most of Europe are more advanced than the UK and most of its former colonies.

    The rules are tough in the USA and Netherlands, where ministers must resign on taking up their appointments. They are tougher here in Belgium, where we have six different levels of government, and party leaders (by convention) are not ministers. I think some other countries operate more flexibly.

    But the point is that the Dail practice of insisting that ministers are TDs was copied across blindly from British usage without anyone really asking why.

    Same goes for Northern Ireland ministers – better in my view to appoint them to sit outside a smaller Assembly, which could then get on with scrutiny and legislation.

  • Gingray

    Ah right, so the Dutch system is similar to American in that politicians are still making up the bulk of ministerial appointments, just resigning from their elected role.

    Makes sense, but a too radical perhaps within the British style of government we are used to.

    Hmm in Northern Ireland I sometimes think trained monkeys could do a better job. Fewer mlas, ministries, more accountability all are needed asap.

  • Granni Trixie

    This brings up the question of what are the qualities required to be a politician, including their values.

    Any party or institution would be lucky to have MC as a member.

  • chrisjones2

    “From the politicians’ point of view, it means more jobs for the boys and girls; from the citizens’ point of view,”

    …and gives huge power of patronage to a few well connected people which I assume is why it persists

  • chrisjones2

    …and your point is what exactly?

    Sorry but your posts seem to me to be all flim flam and waffle.

    I love too the Shinners haughty criticism of MC for once having had a tenuous connection to RNU when they are controlled by the Army Council and many of their members have pasts drenched in blood.

    Can they actually tell us who is on the Army Council and why it has such influence on SF?

    Shall we put all that on the table as well.?

    Call Gerry and Sinn Fein out for an account of the period when he was never in the IRA and what exactly he was doing then?

    And if we don’t do that why does MC require all this attention. Why are so many people so politically frightened of her? Politically she and I may be polar opposites but I admire what she has done, how she has survived what they did to her and her ability to put her case in a non sectarian way. Would that Unionism had several like her

  • chrisjones2

    “Why is a person demanding an embargoe on a personal statement?”

    She can ask for what she wants. Its up to her and the News Organisations if they honour it. What is that to you? Why are you so exercised?

  • steve white

    embargoes are not something ordinary people are that aware of granted she worked in radio a bit before, Im exercised because an FG minister abused her ministerial power to beef up the CV of a Seanad candidate last year, and Labour let Humprheys and his proposer the Taoiseach away with it, and again this year they put up somebody who Im not sure has the qualifications to be Senator on the Industry and Commerce panel and yet again the candidates hides behind her party, and doesn’t answer simple questions and this time FG have to go along with it becuase they owe LP one.

  • steve white

    she requires attention because she decided to run for a political position and was nominated to the Industry and Commerce Panel of the Seanad (months before a general election)

  • steve white

    I’ve always said good judgement is the requirement of a poltiician, they have advisors for the rest but, but, this is Senate seat, that brings particular qualification requirements, having knowledge and practical experience of Industry and Commerce, including banking, finance, accountancy, engineering and architecture; in order bring that expertise to the review and amendment of legislation.

  • Jack Stone

    I’d be less interested in when, and more interested in why. Certainly, she has been no less critical of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Does she believe in the legitimacy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and it’s forerunner the Royal Ulster Constabulary? Does she believe that there was never any legitimacy to the armed struggle in Northern Ireland? Does she believe that her own grandfather was a criminal? Does Ms. Cahill believe Joe Cahill was a murderer for the murder of Constable Patrick Murphy (a crime of which he was convicted)? Or is she not a Republican because it is just no longer relevant because it does not have “much relevance on the ground”? Those all have very different meanings.

  • Gingray

    Very true.

  • Jag

    On the legal issues referred to by Mairia in that interview, it’s a fact that since October 2014 when she wrote that statement reproduced on Slugger “I am taking robust legal action against the people who have printed or posted this information in relation to me – it is inaccurate, and based on dubious information at worst, and at best, a mistake on a website.”

    Mairia has initiated just one case in Dublin’s High Court, and that is against the Sunday World and is understood to relate to a report about Mairia’s relations with a sister of Robert McCartney. Other than the Sunday World appointing a solicitor, and Mairia filing an affidavit last month, there hasn’t been any progress in that case which was initiated in May 2015.

    There doesn’t appear to have been any legal action against Associated News, the publishers of the Daily Mail article despite Mairia saying last October in that statement to Slugger that she was “taking robust legal action”.

  • Jag

    I gathered that she was still involved in 2011, at least that is what Robert McCartney’s sister was suggesting in a statement this week. I don’t know though.

    When did she join and when did she leave.

  • Jag

    On the legal issues again. Mairia Cahill hasn’t even given the broadest outline. Are there police investigations or prosecutions in the North (or South). Is there civil litigation (other than the Sunday World matter referred to below, Mairia doesn’t crop up in the High Court in Dublin), and if so, who’s suing whom?

    In general, it’s not unusual politicians not wanting to answer questions to rely on legal issues as justification for silence. No idea what the story is in Mairia’s case but surely she can provide an outline.

  • Granni Trixie

    Why should she have to answer for the sins of her relatives? You can’t help the family or community you are born into. There must be thousands of people in NI born into families with a member who was a paramilitary. I think they should be judged on what they do as adults and not at all on family. Few middle class children will have to manage such a problem.

  • Reader

    Someone could give random answers to each of the above questions and still choose to regard themselves as a republican (or not). There will always be a queue of people bound to their own orthodoxy telling them that they are wrong.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So your solution to the Seanad issue and by extension Dáil is a government of Mario Monti like technocrats. Why does anyone think representative democracy can work, it just happens to be the most common form of democracy. I never pegged you have similar political views with the IRSP!

  • chrisjones2

    Fine …..but why the focus on her Steve?

    I know that you are not part of the campaign of vilification against her led by SF and have genuine and high motives for your questions – and those question should be asked .

    I also would not support her simply as a counterweight to the SF Trolls – but it does seem to me that shes getting an undue amount of snide comments and negative criticism when in terms of capability I suspect she is far in advance of most other candidates for the august body!! And shes a woman. And those two factors may be significant in the reaction

  • steve white

    she got that from Jerry Beades email, and I think he was misinterrpreting her election to the 2010-2011 term of general secretary of the RNU which she says she didn’t complete. She’s never publically said exactly when she left, but it would require further proof by those that she was invovled in the RNU beyond that to provide it.

  • steve white

    she the one up for election, she the one with majority of oireachtas members set to back her she was the one that was always going to win, What are her qualifcations for Industry and Commerce Panel chrisjones2?

  • babyface finlayson

    She was not a politician then though. And she was about 25 I think.
    Maybe she wasn’t thinking about her political career at that point.

  • Jag

    Well, she’s in now with a landslide of votes from FG and Labour. She’ll likely be in that office until April next year, though from February, there will be limited sittings if the general election is called then. She’ll be paid around £45,000 a year, it’s not a particularly well paid office but most senators I know have plenty of additional interests.

    She;ll likely disappear from the Oireachtas early next year. Labour is on course to lose 70% of its seats, Paddy Power thinks it will get 11 down from 34 in 2011. Labour will be lucky to have two senators, and Mairia will face plenty of competition.

    There’s an expression in Irish politics about it being like playing in senior hurling, that is, no room for naivety and you need a very thick skin. I sense the criticism of Mairia has moved in the past week from the social media fringes to the mainstream; I think she’ll face a difficult time in the next few months. Will it serve Labour’s ambition to fend off the Shinners by reminding everyone about its unresolved past? Who knows, I think it will do some damage but unless there’s a scene or new revelations, I think that harm has already been done.

  • chrisjones2

    Probably none. What are the qualifications of most of them?

  • babyface finlayson

    She has said her time in RNU could be verified by Danny McBrearty, the former chairperson I think.
    I wonder has any enterprising journalist tried to speak to him at all?

  • steve white

    you can find out, their not all un-qualified, I hope you are not trying to keeps standards low, lets discuss the person that was up for election this week and was virtually guaranteed the seat, I linked to her public Linkedin CV that must have been up for nearly a year and hours later she deleted why does a person running for public office do that?

  • Robin Keogh

    Mick, I must have been asleep over the last few weeks. While i knew Mairia had been nominated by Labour for a Senate seat after Fianna Fail ditched her, I had no idea there was a row going on in the background over her selection. Where does SF come into it? Anyone?

  • Jack Stone

    She spent years as a teen and adult supporting physical force republicanism. Why shouldn’t we ask her what she believes about the criminality of viewpoints she used to support. I am not asking for her to answer for the sins of her grandfather, I am asking what she believes about her grandfather and other members of the IRA. I could have used Bobby Storey or Ray McCreesh. She is from a prominent Republican family, her point of view of physical force republicanism is especially germane due to her past and her history of political activism. Why shouldn’t she have to answer questions about the legitimacy of paramilitaries (which include the former chief of Staff of the Provisional Irish Republican Army) ?

  • kalista63

    Looking at the two main Irish political sites, there’s disquiet about this Catherine McCartney;s letter and subsequent interview being the real eye opener. Then there was Cahill’s refusal to be interviewed and to take part in the hustings event.

    Truth is, little new was revealed this last 2 weeks but those raising these issues were shot down as shinnerbots. I don’t think that those who relentlessly posted about the issue helped, in fact, they helped Cahill look the victim.

    We also had the shouting down of Sen. David Norris when he raised issues on Cahill, something that also caused disquiet among non shinnerbots. Things are pretty strange when the Irish Times starts asking questions about her and the procedures.

  • Jack Stone

    Fair point, but the real question is about those beliefs and not the question of the boarder. I am curious if her beliefs match that of Labour. Has she changed her beliefs to fit the party that supported her the most in her time of need?

  • kalista63

    Catherine Kelly asked her if she’d condemned Ronan Kerr’s killing. Cahill said she did, to which, Kelly asked for evidence. Cahill said it was freely available on the net. We’re still waiting to see it.

  • Robin Keogh

    From what I can make out Mairia has been attacked by Ms McCartney and an independent candidate for the Senate Mr Beades. Mick seems to be saying that Sinn fein have been to the fore in attacks on Mairia in the run up to this election but I cant find anything to back that up.

  • kalista63

    Same here. I haven’t seen shinners attack her either.People need to cast their minds back to the killing of the 2 soldiers in Antrim. SF Condemned it strongly, on we all put ‘not in my name’ on our profiles. Meanwhile, on a closed ‘republican’ site. RNU members and supporters were enjoying the moment and attacking the provisional movement and its supporters.

    I saw the Twitter debate between Mairia and Catherine and it would be educational for Labour voters to see it. Catherine knows what Labour and FG are at and I’d guess that FF were paying more attention but Catherine saw the same misuse, exploitation of her situation.

    I think the next polls are going to be interesting, so long as they were taken after this debacle.

  • Granni Trixie

    I absolutely agree that anyone is entitled to ask where she stands on paramilitary violence and the rule of law. She has been asked about that since her story came to light and Gives what is to me convincing answers. Furthermore she has shown much courage in going against her upbringing.

  • Granni Trixie

    But she was a victim before she was a survivor so she doesn’t need help to look the part.

  • Absolus

    FG/LAB have given Cahill a handy number worth over 65k per year.
    In return for this she will use unfounded accusations and scurrilous
    rumours in an attempt to vilify Labour’s opponents. This is nothing new nor particularly innovative.
    All governing parties have routinely used the Seanad as a consolation prize for defeated election candidates or, as in this case, as a reward for services rendered to the party.
    Interestingly,while FG were happy to help Labour appoint their Seanad propaganda
    puppet, they were not inclined to take her on the FG ticket.
    Happy to let a desperate Labour party risk any comeback from future revelations
    As for shrieking Joan’s support for Cahill, isn’t it interesting that she didn’t feel confident enough to put her on the Labour GE ticket ? Not so sure that the public would fall into line as easily as the elite money grabbers in the Seanad perhaps ?
    Nothing these despots in Dáil Éireann do surprises me any more, but it does
    rankle that Labour are using upwards of €65k of taxpayers money to fund
    what is essentially a GE stunt aimed at avoiding the predicted electoral wipeout come next spring.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Yawn. If you can’t tell the difference between “maybe not all ministers need to be elected politicians” and “all ministers must be technocrats”, there’s no point in talking to you.

  • chrisjones2

    Why not ask her? Perhaps she was sick of being trolled there as elsewhere…and its never deleted …always somewhere to be found

    I know they are not all unqualified but many are just party hacks on a sinecure to ensure they go quietly. Sometimes its a reward for past service or sometimes to to lever them out when they prove useless / prove a liability. Plus ca change!

    And if you need proof have a read at this!!!

  • J.D. Squane

    Hmmm. A confusing and murky chain of events. I’m no fan of Sinn Fein but I wonder if Mairia has considered the possibility that she is being used and when she is no longer useful could be hung out to dry by the myriad questions about her credibility which refuse to go away. Many in the north are asking legitimate questions about this saga- questions which are ignored because anyone who is openly critical of Mairia seems to be branded one of the many unquestioning Sinn Fein apologists with which we are blighted every time the sleazy underbelly of republicanism is exposed. However, there are some legitimate questions which must be asked and can only be answered by Mairia. Chief among them is to produce any evidence she has in her possession which support her version of events and which, to be honest, has not been forthcoming. Release the details- there must be phone records, conversations with other parties, details such as times, places, phone calls, text messages etc. About these events. General feeling in republican areas seems to be to go and tell what you know and allow everyone to tell their story to the police and courts and let the proper authorities do their job. There is a feeling that Mairia is also being less than forthcoming with the truth. If you have nothing to hide, then tell your whole story instead of making unsubstantiated allegations. Whatever your personal feelings on Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams and the whole republican spin and damage limitation machine, it is difficult to deny that Mairia certainly has a few skeletons in her closet (membership of Eire Nua which is difficult to explain away as being young and foolish and also the unsavoury incident with the McCartney family) which will almost certainly come back to haunt her as she embarks on her new career. She definitely seems to have outlived her usefulness with the media in the north and even seems to be given a wide berth by Sinn Fein’s political opponents who are not normally shy about using a negative story to attack ‘the bearded one’. I really hope she knows what she is doing as we all know that politics can be a difficult place to hide your skeletons, and goodwill will only see you so far before the cut and thrust! Bring all the allegations into the open and let justice take its course Mairia. Come clean about your past if you have nothing to hide

  • steve white

    I asked her to publish her CV (“as I had asked Gerard Craughwell do last year, he published it), but as everybody else has found she refused to answer questions and just hid behind the party press office and utter BS about supposed ‘process’. It then occured to me to look on Linkedin and I linked to it, later, someone asked her why she deleted it, she said it was ‘out of date’, well she simply should have updated it then! the profile is still gone but managed to get a screengrab copy of it on an open tab

  • steve white

    yes but Im talking about assessing her now as politician

  • babyface finlayson

    You appear to be highlighting her tricky situation when she was 25 as an issue in assessing her now as a politician.
    I don’t think it is all that relevant given her age and the turmoil she had been through.
    There is nothing to suggest that her time with the RNU was anything more than a passing phase at a time of confusion in her life
    I think your broader point about her qualifications (or lack of) is fair enough,though it has never really been a hindrance in this part of the world.
    How special are our special advisers I wonder?

  • steve white

    there was a lack of clarity in the statement she issued last year, in terms of dates, she eventually did an interview on it but only after the close of votes, when she knew she’d won, a politicians tactic.

  • Neil

    The interesting things is that when the MC story broke, any questioning or criticism led to accusations of being a rape enabler, (or other, turn it up to 11 over the top defence) so shinners were pretty much frozen out of the discussion (if they had any sense) as the counter attack to any question or comment wasn’t worth it. Now it seems as if the situation has reversed – many expect MC to be used as a tool by Labour to attempt to damage SF. So much so that I would imagine Labour will now be reticent about using MC to attack SF. Not that it matters to some, as they can suggest any attack on MC is an attack from ‘shinnerbots’ even if the attack in question comes from an independent TD or one of the McCartney sisters.

  • Jack Stone

    When the story originally broke, it’s entire purpose was to discredit a rape accuser. It was a naked political move to make Ms. Cahill seem untrustworthy and like she had a secondary motive. It was an attack on the accuser to discredit the accusations. It was, in my opinion, contemptible.

    I think this is completely different from that. Once she becomes a politician than he political history is much more important than when she is an accuser. Her politics matters if she wants to be a politician.

  • Neil

    Actually not so sure about your first paragraph. I (having been a consistent SF commentor from the Falls area, on this site) said: the dogs in the street know what happened to Mairia. By that I meant that everyone knew she was telling the truth about her ordeal. I was attacked vociferously by a site admin for having used a simile using the word ‘dog’. That silenced me at the time.

    She should be able to answer questions in the guise of someone nominated to the seanad, involved in politics as you say, but everyone deserves a second chance. She’s admitted her involvement in RNU and described it as a mistake. What more can be expected. I hope she can affect positive change from her position, good luck to her. I do believe her utility as an angle of attack on SF by Labour has been somewhat neutralised due to the fact that the electorate are wise to that now, and seem to be reacting to the relentless attacks on SF with some cynicism.

  • Jack Stone

    Let me try to explain it better, In 2014, when Mairia’s history with dissident Republicanism was first unearthed. It was put forward in an attempt to discredit her accusations. It was an attack intended to blunt it’s political effect. In my opinion, this is different from the most recent return of the story which is a legitimate examination of a candidate’s past.

    Is your problem with me using the word accuser? That is what she is.

  • babyface finlayson


    We may be at cross purposes. I thought you were querying her
    “going to police around the same time she was in anti-policing organisation?”

    Is it that fact you are highlighting or how she is addressing that part of her life now?
    If the former then I repeat it was at the age of 25 during a confusing time for her and I don’t think we can read too much into it.
    If the latter, well as you say her evasion may be politics so she is probably showing the skills required of a politician already.

  • J.D. Squane

    I agree. I definitely feel there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. The whole case collapsed after Mairia herself withdrew her evidence, yet I have not heard her try and justify this. If a crime has been committed, then all evidence should be considered and examined in a court of law. This is the feeling on the ground in West Belfast- let the appropriate legal process take place. It also appears that she is dodging the difficult questions on this issue by not participating in debates or answering questions on the subject. Surely she knows that she cannot hide forever and the difficult questions will not go away if she simply battens downs the hatches and ignores them! She also definitely seems to be getting an easy ride as far as the southern press are concerned! They don’t seem overly concerned about the fact that she was basically a member of a dissident republican group linked to some very nefarious activities! I don’t think for example she would have escaped with such weak questions if she had gone for election as a member of Sinn Fein! And the old ‘I was young and foolish’ excuse certainly wouldn’t have cut the mustard there!