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Mairia Cahill will be 'brave voice' for party on council, says SDLP leader Eastwood

By Staff Reporter

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said that Mairia Cahill will be an "excellent asset" to the party on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

The former Irish Labour Senator has been co-opted on to the local authority to represent the Killultagh ward.

Following the announcement, Mr Eastwood said: "Mairia Cahill has an extremely strong record of speaking out against injustice, maltreatment and inequality.

"We are confident that her attributes are best placed to complement the values and vision of the SDLP, and we are delighted she has decided to make the SDLP her political home.

"Politics is too often sadly missing brave voices to call out right from wrong.

"The SDLP has always taken uncomfortable steps to deliver a fair and just society, and I am confident Mairia will play a prolific part in continuing to practise the politics others merely preach, by speaking truth to power."

Party MLA Pat Catney added: "The addition of Mairia Cahill to Lagan Valley SDLP is fantastic.

"Mairia will be an excellent asset to an already very able council group and I very much look forward to working alongside her in the time ahead."

Ms Cahill has said she intends to represent all sections of the community "to the best of my ability".

Last night she tweeted: So, this is happening.

"I will shortly be co-opted into Lisburn and Castlereagh council for the SDLP.

"I will also be remaining a Labour Party member and look forward to representing people from all traditions and none in local politics, and doing my best for them."

The west Belfast woman was plunged into the spotlight in 2010 after she waived her right to anonymity to speak out in a newspaper interview, making allegations she had been raped by an IRA member when she was a teenager in 1997.

She further claimed that the IRA conducted its own inquiry into her account, subjecting her to interrogation and forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.

The man she accused of rape was later acquitted of criminal charges in court after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Charges were dropped against those allegedly involved in the IRA's internal inquiry.

Ms Cahill, who comes from a strongly republican family, said after speaking out she was subjected to "relentless abuse" by republican trolls on social media. However, she said she would not be intimidated into silence by them.

"If I lived my life being dictated to by trolls, I'd never get anything done," she said.

"They haven't gone away, but I will be concentrating on constituency issues and I hope that those people would do something productive for society also."

In 2015 Ms Cahill joined Irish Labour and was elected to the Senate. She said: "I will continue to develop real and meaningful engagement with the unionist community and I look forward to getting stuck into local issues in the Lisburn council area."

She is replacing Christine Robb, who recently resigned from representing the Killultagh district electoral area for personal reasons.

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