IRA accuser Mairia Cahill was board member of militant anti-peace process group.Photocall

Catherine McCartney, sister of murder victim Robert McCartney who was notoriously killed by the IRA in 2005, has denounced the Labour Party for choosing Mairia Cahill as their candidate for a vacant Irish senate seat. McCartney claims Cahill, who stated she was raped by a relative in the IRA, has hidden her own recent dissident IRA past and Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) and Labour Party leader Joan Burton has allowed Cahill to stand for office despite this recent record while still attacking Sinn Féin for their part in supporting armed actions.

"I have stayed silent up to now about my disgust regarding the nomination of Mairia Cahill to the Seanad because of outstanding civil proceedings I am taking against her," McCartney said.

"Reservations I have surround her alleged senior position in the RNU [Republican Network for Unity—a small Irish republican political group that some believe are the political wing of terrorist organization, Óglaigh na hÉireann] which, it appears, was as recent as 2011. I have today written to Oireachtas members outlining my concerns.

“It is vital for victims' families, fighting for truth and justice to be entitled to work with elected representatives who should operate from a position of integrity and independence."

"I am asking the Labour Party and Ms Cahill to provide a credible explanation regarding emerging revelations of her involvement with RNU and to do so before the Seanad election.

“Without an explanation, the appointment appears to be made solely for political purposes. This undermines the campaigning work of victims' families, from all backgrounds, who campaign for Justice for their loved ones.

“I am calling on Joan Burton and the Labour Party to reflect on their decision to nominate Ms Cahill to the Seanad position,” she concluded.

Mairia Cahill, whose great-uncle Joe Cahill helped in the 1969 creation of the Provisional IRA, assumed a massive public role following her accusations that members of the IRA covered up for a member of her family and IRA member who raped her when she was 16. On BBC Northern Ireland’s “Spotlight” program she alleged that she had been prevented from going to the police and was widely praised for her courage in coming forward.

Now, however, her own paramilitary links are being explored.

READ MORE: Mairia Cahill’s link to dissident IRA group is revealed by newspaper.

In a follow-up letter to members of the Irish parliament McCartney stated:

Dear Senators and Deputies,

I am writing to express my concern of, and my objection to Ms Cahill's nomination to the Seanad.

This is on the grounds of her involvement in the dissident group RNU, as highlighted by Mr Beades [Jerry Beades, an opposing candidate] and others over the weekend.

Furthermore, the outright refusal of the Labour Party to provide a comprehensive explanation in relation to this matter only adds injury to families such as my own.

As you will be aware my brother, Robert, was murdered by the IRA and Sinn Féin members in 2005, and in the aftermath the IRA embarked on a cover up, which rendered any prospect of justice impossible. A key and essential factor in our campaign was pressuring republicans to cooperate with the PSNI and due to this stance my family suffered greatly.

  • A picket held outside my brother's house (causing my 4-year-old nephew to vomit with anxiety).
  • Robert's friend was badly beaten.
  • We were issued with death threats.
  • My sister and brother's fiancé (and two children had to leave the area).
  • We were vilified and condemned
  • Our lives were completely transformed due to his murder and our campaign.

This did not deter us in our quest for justice however; a quest we continue to this day. When SF did sign up to policing some of those involved in Robert's murder moved to the dissident groups in protest.

If the revelations regarding Ms Cahill are accurate, then she also moved to the dissidents in opposition to SF's shift on policing. It has been cited in the press that Ms Cahill was the National Secretary of RNU from 2010-2011, a very senior position. This cannot be regarded as a minor issue or an irrelevance to the appointment to a political office.

I would also like it noted that Ms Cahill did not inform me of her involvement in RNU when I brought her into my home in 2011. On the contrary, she claimed not to be involved and to be in fear of them. It now appears that at this time she was National Secretary.

Ms Cahill's nomination to the Seanad, in the absence of any full explanation for her involvement in a group which was actively discouraging people to engage with the police, is unacceptable and a gross undermining of victims of the IRA and dissident republicans.

I fail to understand how a family like our own can ask political parties to hold SF to account regarding matters of truth and justice, (issues which remain at the forefront of peace process) whilst at the same time those parties ask no questions of Ms Cahill, and provide no answers to the public.

I have been silent on the issues surrounding Ms Cahill's case. This is due to civil proceedings in process regarding a harassment case I have taken against Ms Cahill.

In 2011 I invited Ms Cahill into my home, because I believed her to be a woman facing a similar experience to our own (i.e. coming up against the Provos). I supported her as a woman, a feminist and a justice campaigner. I did not allow her previous involvement in SF to cloud my judgement of her experience or need.

I am now aware that I was not given the full facts and circumstances of Ms Cahill's position and activities. I have decided to write this letter because I believe the same now applies to the public, who deserve better from democratic politicians.

Also, I believe that as a family seeking justice this appointment will leave us isolated from those political parties who support this nomination (without providing a full explanation acceptable to victims of the IRA and dissidents). The duplicity inherent in the lack of transparency and honesty relating to Ms Cahill's role would make it difficult for me to engage on basis of integrity and independence.

I will leave it to your judgement regarding her suitability in the light of the revelations, but would ask that you demand a full and comprehensive explanation to be provided and published. This would be with a view to protecting the integrity of victims of republican violence, past and present.

I feel I must mention one more thing. In a message to me, Mairia Cahill claims to have recorded me without my knowledge and expressly infers that she will use this material to damage me in some way. It is my view, and I'm sure the public would agree, that this behaviour is not befitting of a member of the Seanad and should also be addressed.

I would hope that you receive this on the basis upon which it is sent—a genuine and proven concern for matters relating to the rule of law, justice and truth.

Yours respectfully,

Catherine McCartney (sister of Robert McCartney)


Do you believe there should be an investigation into the alleged dissident Republican links of Mairia Cahill and should she be allowed to run for the Irish Senate? Let us know in the comments section below.