Pauline Tully has made a shock return to politics as she plans to stand for Sinn Féin in the next General Election. The move follows the personal intervention of leader Mary Lou McDonald, with the local activist's return to politics seen as a significant boost to the party's ambitions of securing two of the five seats available in future.
The Kilnaleck mother of two had consistently ruled herself out of the running, citing “family commitments” as her reason, even as recently as last March. But the change of heart comes after face to face discussions held with Ms McDonald, following which Ms Tully now feels she has the supports necessary to represent the party fully.
Still in the minds of many is the serious assault she sustained at the hands of her estranged husband, Pearse McCauley, in December 2014. This was witnessed by her two young sons: “It's in the past and while it was undoubtedly a harrowing experience we as a family have moved on and, thankfully, are doing well.”
The party will be hoping Ms Tully's experience as a local politician will help build on the already healthy numbers obtained in 2011 and 2016 by then Cavan Sinn Féin candidate Kathryn Reilly.
In 2016 Ms Reilly polled 10% of the first preference votes in the constituency. Vocal at council level on a wide range of issues including social, environmental, health and education, Ms Tully will be expected to build on the reputation first forged when she was elected to represent the Ballyjamesduff electoral area in 1999. In subsequent elections up to the time she stood down in 2012, Ms Tully helped the party attain an increasing voter share locally, to the point that Sinn Féin topped the poll in Ballyjamesduff electoral area with Noel Connell in 2014.
A teacher of maths and history, Ms Tully is also Year Head and the Special Educational Needs co-ordinator at Breifne College, Cavan Town. She also currently hold the chair of the Board of Management of Breifne College. She will go before the Sinn Féin selection convention due to take place in Cavan in the coming weeks. If successful in receiving the nomination, she will join Matt Carthy on the party's Cavan-Monaghan ticket for the 33rd Dáil.
See this week's Anglo-Celt newspaper for the full exclusive interview.