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Monday 23 September 2019

'I went into a spiral. I felt completely isolated from the community I lived in' - Mairia Cahill

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

Abuse survivor Mairia Cahill has said her life had gone “into a spiral” and she felt “completely isolated” from her community when she joined the Republican Network for Unity.

The Seanad candidate has broken her silence on her links to the group which opposes the PSNI and Good Friday Agreement, saying she “deeply regrets” joining it in 2010.

Ms Cahill, who is likely to be confirmed as a senator tomorrow, said she no longer considers herself a Republican and has regrets about her past.

“I’m not proud of it. I think people should be allowed to move on once they take responsibility for it,” she said.

The Labour Party member has come under intense scrutiny in recent days to detail her time in the RNU which included a brief period as secretary of the organisation which has dissident links.

She said that late 2009, early 2010 was a “very difficult” period in her life and she turned to the group but it was the “wrong thing to do” .

Ms Cahill told RTÉ’s Drivetime that while she had thought she had managed to deal with her abuse and the subsequent cover up at the hands of the Republican movement, it resurfaced around that time.

She also found out that she was pregnant and was struggling to cope, having previously attempted to take her own life.

“I went into a spiral. I felt completely isolated from the community I lived in,” she said.

At one stage she rose the position of secretary in the RNU but resigned after just a few hours.

“I didn’t have advance notice that I would be proposed from the floor and I was. A couple of hours later I had a conversation with the chair and I resigned,” she said.

Ms Cahill said that when she moved out of west Belfast she “started to see there was a different way of living”.

Her involvement with the RNU has been heavily criticised by her rival in the Seanad by-election Jerry Beades and the sister of murder victim Robert McCartney, Catherine.

“It was the wrong thing for me to do. People do things which were wrong. That’s not me today and it hasn’t been may for a very long time,” Ms Cahilll said.

She said she has “made a massive journey in the last five years” and wanted to work now to empower people.

Asked whether the Labour Party were fully aware of her past, she said that she has answered any questions on the issue.

Votes in the Seanad election are due to be counted tomorrow with Ms Cahill all but certain to win the seat vacated by Jimmy Harte as she has the support of both Labour and Fine Gael.

Only TDs and senators can vote in the by-election.

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