Croydon’s education chief has dramatically quit after she admitted this morning to close associations with the Provisional IRA in the 1970s.
It is understood Maria Gatland was sentenced to death after revealing her role in the Irish terror organisation in a kiss and tell book published in the 1970s.
This morning, she admitted she was the author of To Take Arms: My Year with the Provisional IRA* in 1972 under her maiden name, Maria McGuire, and she resigned as the council’s cabinet member for education.
In the book’s prologue, she writes: “I agreed with the shooting of British soldiers and believed the more who were killed the better.
“I remember occasions where we heard late at night that a British soldier had been shot and seriously wounded in Belfast or Derry and we would hope that by the morning he would be dead.”
In the book she also tells how in 1971 she made a trip to Amsterdam to buy ammunition and arms for the Provisional IRA.
Following the sensational admission she has also been suspended from the council’s Conservative group pending an investigation.
Speaking to the Advertiser, she said: “I have resigned. I am not prepared to say anything more at this stage.”
Council leader Mike Fisher said Cllr Gatland had offered her resignation at a meeting with him and he had decided immediately to suspend her from the group while an investigation was carried out.
…Cryptic clues to Cllr Gatland’s past were given at Monday’s council meeting by Dr Peter Latham, one of the leaders of the trade union backed, Save Our Schools campaign.
Following up a written question on academies answered by Cllr Gatland, Dr Latham referred to her as Cllr McGuire.
Apologising quickly and suggesting he was a bit mixed up he said he was a devotee of Irish history and had been reading a book about a year with the provisional IRA which “you Cllr Gatland might have heard about as your are Irish.”
From the Croydon Advertiser.
(Tip o’ the titfer: Slugger O’ Toole.)