A Conservative Party councillor has resigned an education post because of the disclosure of her associations with the IRA in the early 1970s.
Maria Gatland, a senior figure on Croydon council in Greater London, resigned after it emerged she was the author of the book ‘To Take Arms: My Year with the Provisional IRA’, and was involved with the organisation more than 30 years ago.
Originally from Churchtown, Dublin, and writing under her maiden name of McGuire, Ms Gatland detailed her experiences with senior IRA figures and her recollections of an arms-buying trip to Europe.
It was described in a review in Time magazine in 1973 as a “kiss-and-tell story” about her relationship with the IRA.
The book described how, among other tasks, she had acted as an interpreter for IRA leader Daithi O Conaill when she was in her early twenties. However, she later quit the movement and left for England.
A newspaper report at the time quoted Mr O Conaill as saying that one of the purposes of their trip was to secure arms “which would have gone to create a free Derry not just in name but in effect”.
She was confronted with her past at a public meeting this week and promptly resigned as a council cabinet member for children. She said she was not prepared to say anything further “at this stage”. The council said it was suspending her pending an investigation.
A council spokeswoman said: “The council has been advised that Maria Gatland has resigned as cabinet member for children, young people and learners.
“This follows emerging news of her connection to the Provisional IRA - which has come as a complete shock to Croydon.”