As regular followers of this blog are likely to know, controversy last week raged around the issue of Mairia Cahill’s membership of RNU, the Republican Network for Unity, widely believed to be associated with the paramilitary dissident group, Oglaigh na hEireann.
The immediate motivation for the furore, which at one stage saw Senator David Norris and Catherine McCartney take up cudgels against Cahill, was Mairia Cahill’s attempt to get elected to Seanad Eireann on the Labour party ticket. Despite the attacks, on Friday she was elected and is now a full time Irish politician.
Mairia Cahill has, of course, also been a burr under the saddle of Sinn Fein – and a swingeing critic of SF president Gerry Adams – for some time, largely because of her persuasive and damaging allegations of a Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA cover up of her rape by a leading West Belfast Provo.
Not surprisingly the internet was last week humming with anonymous and sometimes not so anonymous allegations detailing Mairia Cahill’s alleged links with RNU and other dissident groups, many of which seemed focussed on trying to undermine her narrative concerning the IRA/Sinn Fein role in concealing her rape.
The Norris/McCartney charge against Cahill was, in contrast, based only on her one-time membership of RNU, a dissident republican group with roots in the McKevitt-led Real IRA that is opposed, inter alia, to the Good Friday Agreement, the Stormont power-sharing government, the PSNI and most of the institutions established as a consequence of the peace process.
After resisting efforts by the media to interview her, Mairia Cahill finally issued a statement saying that she had indeed been a member of RNU in 2010, had served as national secretary but resigned after ‘a few hours’, and offered an apology saying her membership had been ‘the wrong thing to do’.
While Sinn Fein surrogates are suspected of involvement in last week’s internet campaign against Mairia Cahill, the party itself remained largely silent.
It now seems there may have been a reason for that silence and it lies in the fact that six weeks ago, or so, Gerry Adams’ niece, Sinead Adams was elected Belfast chairperson of RNU.
Sinead is another daughter of Liam Adams, Gerry’s brother who was convicted and jailed for sexually assaulting his other daughter, Aine Dahlstrom. Sinead apparently gave evidence supporting her sister during Liam Adams’ trial. That means that animosity to Gerry for turning against his brother does not seem to have motivated her political journey into RNU.
The news that the party president’s niece was elected to a position of leadership in a dissident group that the party was attempting to link to and smear Mairia Cahill with, was not, one presumes, something that Sinn Fein was all that keen to circulate, or even risk emerging in the media.
The RNU announcement can be found on its West Belfast Facebook page, which is here:
Last week, Republican Network for Unity in Béal Feirste elected a new Comhairle Ceantair to steer the movement in the City into the 100th anniversary year of the 1916 Easter Rising.
The four members elected have been key personnel in driving forward the party’s strategy in Belfast over the last 12 months and have vowed to step it up a gear to ensure RNU continue to build upon firm ground and strengthen the Republican position.
Belfast Public Relations Officer and Student activist Nathan Stuart commented:
“The newly elected Comhairle Ceantair is a clear indication of RNU’s progressive outlook, its membership reflects the party’s desire for both its youth and female membership to be represented throughout all leadership levels.”
“We seek to further develop working relationships with other progressive groups as we believe that only through a united approach can the major obstacles facing Belfast such as cuts to healthcare and education, racism and sectarianism be tackled in an effective way.”
“Our Belfast activists have elected us to do a job, to spread the Republican message throughout working class communities in the city, firmly making our position relevant. We are determined to converting the young, vibrant and radical energy into fostering Republicanism throughout Belfast.”