Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Sinn Fein candidate Shauneen Baker tried to blow up Belfast airport as teenager

By Sarah Henderson, Sunday Life

A convicted attempted airport bomber has been selected by Sinn Fein to run for a seat on Belfast City Council.

Former teenage terrorist Shauneen Baker will contest the Oldpark ward in north Belfast in next May's local government elections.

In 1990, aged 17, she was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being caught with a Semtex bomb on a bus destined for Belfast International.

She pretended to be pregnant and hid the bomb under her clothing.

Baker was at the time part of an IRA bomb team in north Belfast which included her future sister-in-law, Caral Ni Chuilin, who was convicted of attempting to blow up Crumlin village police station in 1989.

Ni Chuilin was arrested after police - who had been tipped off about the attack - opened fire on the terrorists.

North Belfast MLA and former Culture Minister Ni Chuilin later employed Baker as an office manager.

Shauneen Baker.

The two bombers became good friends while in prison.

Baker's own operation was intercepted by cops acting on information from an informant.

She was stopped on a bus at Templepatrick just five minutes away from the airport.

Last week the long-serving party activist was chosen as a candidate for the Oldpark alongside JJ Magee, her former brother-in-law, Mary Clarke and Ryan Murphy.

Baker was married to Paddy Magee, whose brothers are Sinn Fein councillor JJ and Ni Chuilin's common-law husband Gerard, a former party Press officer.

Baker, who is from Ardoyne, works as Sinn Fein's north Belfast constituency manager, based in the office of Gerry Kelly and Caral Ni Chuilin. Ms Baker (46) also runs a women's group in the area called Grace Women's Development.

On Companies House she's also listed as a director of a north Belfast bakery.

Following her selection, Ms Baker tweeted: "I'm so honoured and proud to be selected to stand for Sinn Fein for north Belfast, for a community that is vibrant resilient and courageous.

"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to represent the area I was born and raised GRMA (go raibh maith agat - thank you), onwards and upwards."

Baker is so highly regarded by Sinn Fein that she was selected to read the IRA Ardoyne roll of honour at the 2016 opening of a republican commemoration garden in the area.

She is also heavily involved in ex-prisoner projects.

Last week she posted a photo of herself with party leader Mary Lou McDonald, Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey and former Stormont special advisor Mary McArdle, who was convicted of the 1984 IRA murder of Mary Travers.

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