Máiría Cahill

Writer, former Irish politician and journalist, Máiría Cahill was born in West Belfast into a prominent republican extended family.

Her great-uncle Joe Cahill was one of the founders and chief of staff of the Provisional IRA in the 1970s. 

Máiría was elected National Secretary of Ógra Shinn Féin and worked for Sinn Féin between 1998 and 2001. 

She joined the Irish Labour Party in 2015 and was a Senator from November 2015 to April 2016. Cahill was an SDLP councillor from July 2018 to April 2019.

Máiría has received a James Larkin Thirst for Justice award from the Irish Labour Party and a Special Recognition Award in The Irish Tatler’s Woman of the Year Awards. Since becoming a public figure, she has written as a political commentator for The Sunday Independent, The Belfast Telegraph, The Spectator, and Fortnight Magazine. She also regularly appears as a commentator on radio, frequently on the BBC Nolan Show.

In January 2010 Cahill went public in a Sunday Tribune interview that, between 1997 and 1998, when she was aged 16, she had been raped by an IRA member and forced into an IRA internal “investigation” at the age of 18. Then followed meetings with Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams from 2000 – 2006.

In May 2014, after a 4-year court process the cases collapsed and Not Guilty verdicts returned when Cahill withdrew support for the prosecution after a series of failures she contended they made. 

In October 2014, Cahill waived anonymity on the award-winning BBC documentary “A Woman Alone with the IRA”, and a political furore ensued. Cahill’s case was debated in Westminster, The Dail and the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

In 2015, Sir Keir Starmer conducted a report which found that Cahill had been failed by the Public Prosecution Service. She received a public apology from the DPP and in 2018, from the Chief Constable.

Máiría’s memoir Rough Beast was published by Head of Zeus in September 2023.


Máiría Cahill appears in the following sessions. Select a session to find out more:
Rough Beast: My Story and the Reality of Sinn Féin
Sat 2nd March 2024

Want to hear Máiría Cahill?

If you’d like to see Máiría Cahill speak at this year’s Malvern Festival of Ideas, you can book onto their session(s), or get tickets to a wide range of talks.