Belfast Telegraph

SDLP councillor Mairia Cahill receives good luck card from convicted murderer serving life in American prison

By Gareth Cross

New SDLP Councillor Mairia Cahill has revealed that she has received a good luck letter and card from a convicted murderer serving life without parole in an American prison.

The man, who denies the murder, sent the letter from the Colorado State Penitentiary to the SDLP Headquarters on Belfast's Ormeau Road.

He became aware of Ms Cahill's story after reading about her joining the SDLP in an edition of 'The Irish Echo' and decided to get in touch.

It was announced that Ms Cahill was joining the SDLP last month after previously serving in the Seanad as an Irish Labour senator.

She was then co-opted onto Lisburn and Castlereagh Council.

Ms Cahill has publicly accused the IRA of covering up her rape and then organising a "kangaroo court" in which she was forced to meet her attacker, a former member of the terror group.

The Irish-American man sent a two-page letter detailing his background with photographs of his life inside and outside of prison. He also sent a good-luck card wishing Ms Cahill the best in her new role.

Ms Cahill said that she did not want to name the man but that she had written back to acknowledge his letter.

She said that she would not be engaging in further correspondence with him.

"He said that my story caught his eye and that he was very sorry that someone had been put through that," the recently installed Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor said.

"He wished me all the best with the SDLP and all the success the world has to offer."

The letter offered words of encouragement to Ms Cahill in her new role.

"Keep strong because everyone goes through hard times in life and we have to keep moving forward," the letter read.

"This letter was just to congratulate you on your hard working and to let you know that even across the ocean there is a person keeping you in his prayers so that nothing but good things come to you in life."

Ms Cahill admitted her shock at receiving the letter but said she felt obligated to acknowledge it.

"They have a prison scheme in America where you can email the prisoners and pay a small fee and they print out the email and take it to the prisoners," she said.

"I was very surprised to receive the letter, it's abit strange when you think someone across the world has picked up a paper, read about you and then decided to write.

"Equally, I imagine there's not alot you can do in prison all day no matter where you are so my take on it was they took the time to write - no matter what they've done in life - and the only response would be to write back and thank them for taking the time."

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