What a bizarre story. SDLP Councillor Mairia Cahill is having to withdraw as a candidate because legislation governing local elections says she must disclose her home address publicly. This is not the case in UK Parliamentary or NI Assembly elections.
The Bel Tel reports:
“I went to sign my nomination forms on Wednesday night and realised it was asking for a home address, I rang Virginia McVea and she said ‘this is it’ basically, her hands were tied,” Ms Cahill explained.
“She told me there were at least two other cases were people were reluctant to stand because they would have to disclose their home address. It effectively stops people with safety or security concerns from running for local government.
“It’s going to be very difficult for the candidate who replaces me, we’ve already spent money and my posters have been up for three weeks, we were confident enough of retaining the seat, we’ve worked hard on it over the last 10 months and now I can’t run.”
Ms Cahill said that there was no hope of a u-turn and that she was “devastated” she would be unable to continue her work on the council.
“I got a lovely message today from a group in a predominantly loyalist area who I had helped get sporting facilities, they said they were sad to see me standing down and hoped to continue our relationship,” she said.
“There is an example of positive work that has been done on the council that now is going to go by the way side, that was something I made a point of doing, I went to the Black Preceptory parade, I went to Remembrance Day events, I really wanted to reach out across the community.
“There’s lots of good work that could be continued, someone else will pick it up, but it’s just devastating that those relationships have been built up and now you’re barred from running.”
Adds: The fact we have no sitting Assembly makes this impossible to fix in the short term, althtough it is such a glaring anomaly that an emergency amendment in Westminster on Monday. It doesn’t just affect Ms Cahill, but anyone.
Mark Devenport does not pull his punches:
The failure to update this legislation is quite shocking as it has effectively banned victims of harassment, stalking & domestic violence standing as candidates in the council elections https://t.co/VVQQptUu1u
— Mark Devenport (@markdevenport) April 5, 2019
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