A conviction against former internee Marian Price has been rescinded by a court the day after it was imposed in the latest twist to the saga of harassment and oppression of the former republican prisoner.
The reversal came just 24 hours after Marian was found guilty of charges connected to a peaceful white-line protest in Belfast three years ago.
The 59-year-old republican had been charged with “resisting and impeding” the PSNI police after the protest in the New Lodge area of the city on July 10 2010.
Ms Price wasn’t able to attend Belfast Magistrates Court for Monday’s brief hearing, and the judge convicted her in her absence.
But her lawyer, Peter Corrigan, went back to the court the following day and presented a new medical report which confirmed his client was not well enough to give evidence on her own behalf. The lawyer urged the judge to set aside the earlier conviction, which he did. The case has now been adjourned for four weeks.
A former spokesperson for the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA), the veteran activist was interned by the British government in 2011.
She spent the next two years in jail, much of it in solitary confinement, despite suffering from deteriorating physical and mental health.
While an international human rights campaign secured her release earlier this year, she still faces charges arising from previous attempts by the state to secure her detention.
An attempt by her lawyers earlier in the week to shield her from the hazards of the ongoing court cases failed after a judge rejected a request for no photographs to be published of her appearances.
Seeking the order, Sean Devine, defending, pointed out that the PSN police had previously informed her she was under loyalist threat. A newspaper article from June which showed that loyalist paramilitaries planned to kill her at the first opportunity was produced in evidence.
Pointing out that Ms Price’s physical appearance has changed, affording her a level of anonymity, Mr Devine said: “The level of protection being sought is relatively modest -- images of her should not be published.”
He also produced a doctor’s report which stated that heightened media attention was likely to cause greater anxiety and worsen her medical condition.
But a Crown barrister opposed the application. “The defendant has on previous occasions sought to use the media in pursuit of her own political and ideological ambitions,” he said. “She was aware of the threats on her.”
Rejecting the application, the judge said images of her already existed in the public domain; and while he accepted Ms Price’s appearance had altered, he suggested it may only be due to her now wearing glasses.