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Mairia Cahill 'deeply regrets and is deeply sorry' for dissident involvement

The Labour Seanad candidate has broken her silence.

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill
Image: RollingNews.ie/PA

MAIRIA CAHILL HAS said her involvement with an organisation opposed to the PSNI and the Good Friday Agreement was “the wrong thing to do” and a decision which she “deeply regrets’ and is “deeply sorry” for.

The Labour Seanad by-election candidate was speaking to RTÉ as she ended weeks of silence about her links to the Republican Network for Unity (RNU).

She has faced criticism in recent days for her refusal to address questions about her involvement with the RNU for a number of months in 2010.

“I am the first person to say it was the wrong thing to do, I regret it deeply and I am deeply sorry for it,” she told Philip Boucher-Hayes on Radio One’s Drivetime programme this evening.

Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

Cahill’s refusal to comment in recent weeks has been criticised by Catherine McCartney, the sister of the late Robert McCartney, who was allegedly murdered by the Provisional IRA ten years ago, and the independent Seanad candidate Jerry Beades.

Speaking to RTÉ, Cahill said she joined the organisation in 2010 having been at a “very difficult point in my life” when “every aspect” of her abuse came back to her having watched a documentary about the abuse of Aine Adams.

Cahill said her life “went into a spiral”, describing joining the RNU as “completely the wrong thing to do”. She discussed how she had been suicidal and self-harmed.

screenshot.1447351549.72407 Source: www.thejournal.ie

On her brief spell as the organisation’s national secretary, Cahill explained that she had no prior notice that her name was being proposed for the position.

After she was voted in she decided “two or three hours later” that she didn’t want it and said being pregnant at the time was among the reasons why she refused the post. She added:

At that time I wasn’t really thinking what the RNU was.

Cahill said she would no longer considered herself a republican and that the national question does not have “much relevance on the ground” at the moment. She also said she did not accept the legitimacy of the armed struggle in the North. She added:

I think people should be allowed to move on once they take responsibility for something.

7/10/2015 Mairia Cahill New Labour Candidates Joan Burton with Cahill Source: Leah Farrell

Earlier, the Tánaiste Joan Burton defended Cahill, who she anticipates will win the election tomorrow, insisting:

She will bring to the Seanad a new voice, particularly in relation to issues of young people getting employment and the development of social enterprise, areas she has been very involved in.

Other by-election candidates include Beades, who is a former Fianna Fáil activist. Fianna Fáil itself is running Mayo GP Keith Swanick, while Sinn Féin has put forward Meath councillor Sinead Burke.

Fine Gael has formally thrown its support behind Cahill meaning she is almost certain to take the seat vacated by the retiring Labour senator Jimmy Harte.

A survey of Fine Gael TDs and Senators shows that the recent controversy over Cahill’s involvement with the RNU has seemingly not impacted her level support among the senior coalition partner.

Of the 20 Fine Gael Oireachtas members who responded to queries from TheJournal.ie today, 19 said they had backed Cahill, while one said they had spoiled their ballot.

Read: Everything you need to know about the strangest election in Irish politics

Read: Mairia Cahill is refusing to talk about her past dissident links

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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