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Máiría Cahill drops out of local elections following safety fears over her address

Cahill filed a restraining order to protect herself in the past, and now worries for the safety of herself and her young daughter if her address was to be released.

Máiría Cahill
Máiría Cahill
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

SDLP COUNCILLOR MÁIRÍA Cahill has withdrawn from upcoming local government elections in Northern Ireland over concerns about her home address being made public. 

The former Labour Party Senator said she worries for the safety of herself and her young daughter if her address was to be released. 

Legislation mandates that candidates who wish to stand for election must list their address on their nomination form.

“As the Chief Electoral Officer informs me that she has no way of redacting my address, she would have no option but to disqualify me as a candidate for not making my address available on my nomination form,” Cahill said in a statement.

“I am assured that the law will change in the future as a result of this fiasco. It will be too late for me, but it will help others in my situation who want to enter the political arena.”

“If we were to encourage more people to enter the political arena, we need to be aware of barriers to that decision and proactively change it, rather than reacting when an issue arises.”

A victim of alleged abuse in the republican movement Cahill has been an outspoken critic of Sinn Féin. In 2010 she alleged that she was raped by an IRA member when she was 16 years old. She claimed that the IRA made her confront her alleged abuser and forced her into silence.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the demand on Cahill to release her address was an “unacceptable oversight.”

“It is a disgrace that a victim whose safety would be jeopardised by the publication of her address is not afforded the same protection in a local government election that every Assembly and Westminster candidate can avail of. We have raised our very serious concerns with the Chief Electoral Officer and we will be contacting the Secretary of State about this unacceptable oversight.”

“These rules effectively bar anyone under threat, including victims of domestic violence, from running for local government. That is intolerable.”

“We would never ask Máiría to compromise her safety or the safety of her family for an election. Some things are more important. We’ll continue to work hard to resolve this issue and to support Máiría in any way we can.”

Cahill has already placed posters around her Killultagh constituency and delivered over 5,000 leaflets into constituent’s homes.

She said she wished to thank her constituents and colleagues for their support over the past 10 months in office and apologised for having to drop out of the race over a “scandalous bureaucratic failure.”

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