Martina Anderson

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Martina Anderson
Member of the European Parliament
for Northern Ireland
In office
12 June 2012 – 31 January 2020
Preceded byBairbre de Brún
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
In office
16 May 2011 – 11 June 2012
Serving with Jonathan Bell
Preceded byGerry Kelly
Succeeded byJennifer McCann
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Foyle
In office
10 February 2020[1] – 13 September 2021
Preceded byRaymond McCartney
Succeeded byPádraig Delargy
Ciara Ferguson
In office
7 March 2007 – 11 June 2012
Preceded byMitchel McLaughlin
Succeeded byMaeve McLaughlin
Personal details
Born (1962-04-16) 16 April 1962 (age 61)[1]
Derry, Northern Ireland
Political partySinn Féin
SpousePaul Kavanagh

Martina Anderson (born 16 April 1962) is an Irish[2] former politician from Northern Ireland who served as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Foyle from 2020 to 2021, and previously from 2007 to 2012. A member of Sinn Féin, she served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) representing Northern Ireland from 2012 to 2020.

She became involved in the Irish republican movement in the late 1970s and is a former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer. In June 1986, she was convicted of conspiring to cause explosions and sentenced to life in prison.[3] She was released 13 years later as a condition of the Good Friday Agreement[3][4] and subsequently became involved in politics for Sinn Féin.

She was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2012, representing Foyle. She served in the Northern Ireland Executive as a Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, she became a Member of the European Parliament, and she was reelected in 2014 and in 2019. She left the European Parliament in 2020 and returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Early life[edit]

Anderson was born in the Bogside in Derry, Northern Ireland, into a well-known Irish republican family.[5][6] Her father was a Protestant.[7] She has six sisters and three brothers, one of whom, Peter, is a former Sinn Féin councillor, and her niece is former Irish Senator and former Foyle MP Elisha McCallion.[5][8] She was educated at St Cecilia's College between 1973 and 1980.[9]

IRA activity[edit]

Anderson was arrested aged 18 leaving a furniture store in Derry and charged with possession of a firearm and causing an explosion. She was released on bail after spending two months in Armagh Women's Prison and fled across the border to Buncrana in County Donegal.[3][10]

Anderson was again arrested on 24 June 1985 at a flat in Glasgow with four other IRA members including Brighton bomber Patrick Magee. On 11 June 1986, all five were convicted of conspiring to cause explosions in England, although Magee was the only person convicted in relation to the Brighton hotel bombing.[11][12]

In 1989, Anderson married fellow prisoner and IRA member Paul Kavanagh at Full Sutton Prison.[13] By 1993, she was one of just two female category A prisoners in England, the other being fellow republican Ella O'Dwyer.[14] While at Durham Prison, Anderson obtained a first-class honours degree in social science from the Open University.[10] In 1994, she was transferred from Durham to Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland.[10] On 10 November 1998, Anderson was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[4]

Political career[edit]

In 2007, Anderson was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly as a Sinn Féin member for Foyle, along with Raymond McCartney.[15]

In May 2007, Anderson became one of the first Sinn Féin members to join the Northern Ireland Policing Board.[16]

In December 2007, Anderson said she was concerned that large numbers of migrant workers from mainly Catholic countries were being classed as 'Catholic/nationalist' in monitoring forms, rather than 'other'.[17] She said "Given that the entire basis of the legislation around monitoring was put in place to identify imbalances in the workforce between the local Catholic/nationalist and Protestant/unionist communities it is therefore vital that given the addition of migrant workers in the workforce, that they should clearly be categorised as having a community background of 'other'."[17] Employment monitoring by the Equality Commission records solely religion, and not political affiliation.[18]

She was selected by Sinn Féin to fight the Foyle constituency at the 2010 Westminster general election.[19] She lost to the SDLP incumbent, Mark Durkan, by 5,000 votes (11% of the vote). In May 2012 it was announced that she would be replacing Bairbre de Brún, as MEP for Northern Ireland.[20] Anderson retained her MEP seat in the 2014 election, topping the poll with 159,813 first-preference votes.[21]

In May 2016, she criticised the presence of Israeli lobbyists in the European Parliament: "We can give you a list of all the things we attempted to do, the Israelis are all over this place like a rash." In response the European Jewish Congress called on Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, to discipline her. Anderson said she meant the word "rash" as a metaphor.[22][23][24]

In the 2019 European Parliament elections, Anderson was returned on the fifth ballot, after Diane Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party and Naomi Long of Alliance. After her seat was abolished due to Brexit, on 10 February 2020 she became an MLA for Foyle for a second time, after being selected by Sinn Féin to replace Raymond McCartney.[1][25]

On 4 May 2021, Anderson announced she would not be contesting the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, following an internal party review of recent election results in Foyle.[26] She resigned from the Assembly with Karen Mullan in September and was replaced by Pádraig Delargy and Ciara Ferguson.[27] Anderson's sister, Sharon Burke, claimed that Anderson had been used as a "sacrificial lamb" by Sinn Féin. "The British could not do to our Martina what her comrades and friends have done," Burke wrote on Facebook.[28]


  1. ^ a b c "MLA Details: Ms Martina Anderson". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Sinn Féin: Anderson gets Irish diplomatic passport". Derry Journal. 24 November 2014. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Beyond the Wire". Ireland's Own. 1996. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  4. ^ a b Martin Fletcher (11 November 1998). "200th release sparks anger". The Times.
  5. ^ a b Kevin Mullan (14 October 2017). "Republican matriarch Betty Anderson to be laid to rest". Derry Journal. Archived from the original on 14 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Friday's Child: Martina Anderson". Derry Journal. 5 April 2016. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  7. ^ Donna Deeney (17 May 2019). "Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson defends her IRA past". Belfast Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  8. ^ Claire Simpson (31 January 2020). "Elisha McCallion front-runner to replace Raymond McCartney in Foyle". Irish News. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  9. ^ Rebecca Black (25 January 2018). "Calls for explanation of 'pupil of the day' tribute to ex-bomber Anderson". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Rory Mooney (20 March 2012). "Martina's bringing Derry to the fore". Derry Journal.
  11. ^ Taylor, Peter (2001). Brits. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 157–159. ISBN 0-7475-5806-X.
  12. ^ Gareth Parry (10 June 1986). "Patrick Magee convicted of IRA terrorist attack". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  13. ^ "Passing bad law will not help victims says special adviser". Irish News. 31 May 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  14. ^ Sharrock, David, "Fear and folly in She-Wing" The Guardian; 29 December 1993
  15. ^ "Northern Ireland election". BBC. 9 March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  16. ^ "Policing Board – Martina Anderson MLA". NI Policing Board. 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  17. ^ a b "Sinn Féin and DUP in job figures row". The Newsletter. 18 December 2007. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  18. ^ "ECNI - Equality Commission, Northern Ireland". 30 August 2015. Archived from the original on 1 April 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Anderson ready to fight next election". Derry Journal. 31 January 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Sinn Fein reshuffle as Martina Anderson takes on MEP role". BBC News. Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  21. ^ "2014 European Election, Northern Ireland First Preference Votes". 26 May 2014. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  22. ^ "MEP criticised for describing Israeli lobbyists as 'like a rash'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Israelis are 'like a rash,' says Irish member of European Parliament". Ynetnews. 27 May 2016. Archived from the original on 29 December 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  24. ^ "British European Parliament lawmaker calls Israelis 'a rash'". Times of Israel. JTA. 31 May 2016. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Martina Anderson 'proud and honoured' to return to Stormont as new Foyle MLA". BBC News. BBC News. 1 February 2020. Archived from the original on 1 February 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  26. ^ "Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan stepping down". BBC. 4 May 2021. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Sinn Féin selects Pádraig Delargy and Ciara Ferguson as new Foyle MLAs". BBC News. 8 September 2021. Archived from the original on 8 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  28. ^ Hutton, Brian (11 May 2021). "Sinn Féin using Martina Anderson as 'sacrificial lamb', says family". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 July 2022.

External links[edit]

Political offices
European Parliament
Preceded by MEP for Northern Ireland
2012 – 2020
Constituency abolished
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by MLA for Foyle
Succeeded by
Preceded by MLA for Foyle
Political offices
Preceded by Junior Minister
Succeeded by