The head of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association and leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement Marian Price is currently being held in the hospital wing of Maghaberry High Security Prison, an otherwise male facility. Price, who was convicted of the Old Bailey bombings in 1973, has had her life licence revoked by Owen Patterson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
As a committed anti-GFA Republican, Price is no stranger to the criminal justice system. In the past number of years she has been charged with attending an illegal march, providing property (a mobile phone) for the purposes of terrorism and encouraging support for an illegal organisation. As of yet, Price has not been convicted of the latter two offences. The statement by Owen Paterson reads:
The Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has revoked the life licence of Marian McGlinchey after she was charged with offences under the Terrorism Act 2000 and following the recommendation of the Parole Commissioners that the risk of serious harm posed by Marian McGlinchey has increased significantly.
Mr Paterson has used the powers conferred on him by Parliament in the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001. Mrs McGlinchey has the right to make representations to the Parole Commissioners which they will consider.
Mr Paterson said: “My priority is the safety of the people of Northern Ireland. The Government will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposal under the law to counter the residual terrorist threat.”
Unsurprisingly her imprisonment has provoked outrage from within the ranks of anti-GFA Republicans, who seize upon most acts by the British establishment as further proof of their villainy.
The political imprisoning of republican Marian Price by British direct ruler Owen Patterson represents an act of utter repression against the Irish people. That an unaccountable British politician can arbitrarily remove an Irish citizen’s freedom in their own country demonstrates clearly, despite recent fawning to the contrary, that we have not entered into a new era of relationships between the two islands. What we are witnessing is an assertion of British sovereignty in Ireland.
More surprising perhaps has been the support Price has received from those she has labelled traitors and sell-outs, namely Sinn Féin, who have called for her imitate release.
Marian Price is entitled to due process and the revoking of her licence is completely unacceptable.
The move by Owen Patterson amounts to detention without trial; this runs contrary to natural justice. The justice system needs to be based on human rights protection; the revoking of Marian Price’s licence runs contrary to that.
We have already raised our concerns on this issue with the British Secretary of State and will do the same with the Justice Minister as a matter of urgency.
Although there is no doubt but that Price strongly opposes the Peace Process, and in all likelihood, supports armed groups such as the Real IRA, the fact that she has been imprisoned before any trial has been carried out, with no evidence brought against her for her to defend herself, makes Republicans of all hues deeply uncomfortable. It is of course the case that Price was tried for the Old Bailey bombings, and as such the revocation of her licence is legal. However, any act which places Sinn Féin and other mainstream Republicans squarely behind extreme Republicans such as Price, is one which needs to be carefully thought through and the potential propaganda value balanced against legitimate security concerns.
Let us hope this is the case.