A former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) has been appointed to the Conservative frontbench at Croydon Council. According to the Croydon Advertiser Cllr Maria Gatland was appointed as spokesman for children, families and learning despite having to quit the cabinet five years ago over her terrorist links.
In December 2008 Cllr Gatland was asked about her links to the IRA during the public questions and answers session of a council meeting. The question came from Peter Latham from the Communist Party, and Cllr Gatland confirmed she had been a member of the IRA.
At the time she resigned from both the cabinet and the Conservative Party, for failing to disclose her past at the time of her council selection. However, it later emerged from government sources that she had not mentioned being a former IRA member for security reasons.
Since then she has worked to rebuild her political career, having been appointed chairman of the Licensing Committee, which regulates things like bars and taxis. She also wrote a book in 1973 about her year in the IRA in which she was critical of the organisation. Cllr Gatland said that her time in the IRA was “a year of my life I can never change.”
Most Conservatives are fiercely opposed to the IRA, having suffered at the hands of the group on a number of occasions. In 1984 the IRA blew up the Conservative Party Conference hotel in Brighton, five people were killed and the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came within inches of being killed.
However not every Conservative is wholly critical of the IRA. As previously reported on Breitbart London the Conservative candidate in Bath Ben Howlett has stated that the President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams is the politician he most admires in Northern Ireland.
Mr Adams is widely believed to have been involved in the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was recently arrested for the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. McConville was an innocent civilian who was wrongly accused of being a British government informant, she was kidnapped in front of her children and later murdered.
Although it is illegal to be a member of the IRA the Good Friday Agreement makes it unlikely that Cllr Gatland will ever been charged with any crime.