Labour is expected to formally endorse Ms Cahill’s nomination for the Seanad by-election this week after her move into politics was announced at the weekend.
Ms Cahill, who claims the Provisional IRA covered up her rape by a leading Republican, has been a vocal critic of Sinn Féin since revealing her story last year.
Senior Labour figures, including Tánaiste Joan Burton, have welcomed her decision to join the party and said the Belfast woman will be a great addition to the Seanad. The by-election will be held on November 13 and the Coalition parties, depending on the support of independent senators, are likely to win the vote.
Deputy Labour leader Mr Kelly told RTÉ: “She is an incredible human being, very passionate. She will be a huge addition to the Seanad. I think she is going to be forthright in her views and analysis in showing that there is a topic of discussion, a very sensitive topic, particularly as regards what happened herself, to lead for people.
“But also to demonstrate that there is an issue on this island as regards the way in which some people were abused, particularly in Republican circles, that needs to be dealt with. And it hasn’t been dealt with.”
Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said his party would be putting forward its own candidate for the industrial and commercial panel in the Seanad. He suggested that Labour, by nominating Ms Cahill for that panel, was ignoring workers’ rights.
“Clearly the Labour party have not been looking at workers’ rights as you would have expected with this panel; let people out there decide what their agenda is,” said Mr Mac Lochlainn.
Labour party sources said Ms Cahill was well qualified for the panel, including through her work with youth groups. Sources denied there was any agenda behind bringing her into the Seanad. It was also denied that she would run in the general election in Donegal.