Saturday, June 1, 2013
MARIAN IS HOME
The release of Irish prisoner of conscience Marian Price is being
celebrated as a significant victory for justice campaigners and a key
step in securing the freedom of other prisoners currently interned in
the north of Ireland.
A former political prisoner and republican activist, Marian had been in
custody since May 2011 when her 'release licence' was revoked by then
British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson. A royal pardon which would have
guaranteed her freedom was described as 'missing' from British archives.
Suffering from deteriorating mental and physical health, Marian was
moved from prison to a Belfast hospital on medical advice last June. Her
family described her continued detention as "administrative internment".
She was finally released from hospital yesterday where she was being
treated for depression, arthritis and lung problems.
Her legal team had gone before parole commissioners seeking to have her
freed on licence, with SDLP Assembly member Pat Ramsay and Sinn Fein
politicians speaking on her behalf. During the hearing members of the
British military were closely questioned by Marian's legal team.
Following two months of evidence, the commission yesterday took the
decision that she should be released. It said it had agreed to release
the veteran republican "given her current circumstances". But it refused
to reveal the 'closed material' -- secret allegations -- which have been
presented as evidence to maintain her imprisonment.
Last night Marian Price's husband Jerry McGlinchey said: "I feel a great
sense of elation getting her home but it's a disgrace that closed
material was used to keep her in.
"Although she is now at home she is still very ill and we would ask that
the media respects our privacy at this time."
Arrested and jailed along with her sister Dolours for her part in the
Provisional IRA campaign in 1973, Marian then undertook a hunger-strike
which lasted over 200 days. Prison warders at Belmarsh jail brutally
force-fed both sisters to prevent their deaths. Still haunted by that
experience, Dolours died at her home late last year.
In October, a United Nations medical report found that Marian was be too
ill to follow any evidence presented at court, making her detention all
the more vindictive.
Her lawyer Peter Corrigan welcomed the decision to finally release his
"We are pleased she has been released to return to her family," he said.
"And we are delighted with the decision that she is not a risk to the
public in being released.
"The British secretary of state should not have revoked her licence in
the first place and should not have been relying on closed evidence to
The decision was also welcomed by the Dublin government. Taoiseach Enda
Kenny, who said he raised the issue during meetings with British Prime
Minister David Cameron, said: "I am pleased to learn of today's news and
I hope that Ms Price will now be able to spend time with her family and
The SDLP's Pat Ramsey said the case was about human rights and said he
hoped Marian could return to her family and recuperate.
Sinn Fein junior minister Jennifer McCann described the decision to
detain her as "an affront to the justice system. She should never have
been imprisoned in the first place."
Pauline Mellon of the Justice for Marian campaign said her detention had
been "politically motivated, vindictive and in breach of the Human
Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights and Common Law".
Both Sinn Fein and the various campaign groups, including the Dublin
Justice for Marian Price Committee, the Prison Crisis Group, and others,
pointed to the continued detention of 63-year-old Martin Corey. After
more than three years, Mr Corey is still interned without charge or
trial on the basis of 'closed material', and there is a renewed belief
that he can also be freed.
Ms Mellon said a number of victims of 'administrative internment'
remained behind bars.
"We would ask that people oppose this terrible injustice meted out
against people because of their beliefs," she said.
“The logic of today’s release is that Martin Corey should also be
freed," Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said in a statement.
The Prison Crisis Group said there was more work to do "fighting for
Martin Corey and in solidarity with interned prisoners across the water.
"We will be putting particular emphasis on the case of John Downey. But
we can take time off today to celebrate.
“Everybody should learn the most important lesson to come out of all
this – that grass-roots campaigning can make all the difference.”