By Q Radio News
SDLP Councillor Máiría Cahill says she's been forced to withdrawn from next month's local council elections - because she's unwilling to provide her home address.
Legislation requires candidates to give a home address, but Ms. Cahill says she can't because she wants to protect herself and her daughter from an individual.
Conversley the law does NOT require a home address when it comes to the Westminster and Assembly elections.
Máiría Cahill, who was co-opted into the council - told Q Radio the law needs to be changed:
An SDLP Spokesperson said:
“Both the SDLP and Cllr Máiría Cahill have been in close communication with the Electoral Office and the Chief Electoral Officer over the past number of days regarding the requirement for a candidate to publish their home address on nomination papers which are publicly accessible.
“We have made the case that for Ms Cahill to publish the address of her and her daughter is such that it would pose an unacceptable risk to their safety and that some exception should be made in the way it is possible for Assembly and Westminster candidates to protect their home addresses.
“It is a matter of profound regret that, to date, we have been unable to resolve this problem. We are unwilling to put Máiría or her family at risk.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said:
“Máiría Cahill has been an outstanding local representative for the SDLP. She has served the entire community in Kilultagh tirelessly and fearlessly.
“It is a disgrace that a victim whos safety would be jeopardised by 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.
SDLP Lagan Valley MLA Pat Catney said:
“I’m absolutely devastated. The SDLP in Lisburn has been working so hard to deliver for people across our community and Máiría has been a vital member of our team. We’ve delivered thousands of pieces of literature and helped hundreds of people in this area. Máiría deserves the opportunity to continue that hard work.
“I can’t believe that an outstanding local councillor is being forced to choose between the safety of her family and delivering for her community. It’s wrong and the NIO should change the law immediately.”