It’s true that a Conservative councillor in Croydon is a former member of the IRA

19th Nov 2019

Claim

A former active IRA member is now serving as a Conservative party councillor.

Conclusion

Correct. She defected from the IRA in 1972 and became a Conservative councillor in 2002.

A number of Facebook posts and a blog have recently claimed that a Conservative local councillor is a former member of the IRA.

This is true. Maria Gatland is now a Conservative councillor for South Croydon, but was an active member of the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s. Then known as Maria McGuire, she had been involved in a mission to smuggle in arms from continental Europe.

She defected in 1972 and came to England, writing several articles for the Observer and a book about her experiences.

In 2002, she became a councillor for the Conservatives in Croydon, where seemingly no one knew about her past, until it was revealed at the end of 2008, when she was cabinet member for children, young people and learners. She resigned as cabinet member, and was suspended by the Conservatives, but was allowed back into the party in 2009, and is still a councillor at the time of writing.