The family of jailed republican Tony Taylor are to stage a protest this Saturday afternoon, 11 March, at Strand Road PSNI base in Derry to mark the first anniversary of his internment without trial. The following petition explains the case and all republicans are urged to show their support.
March 10th 2016 was a typical late winter Thursday in Derry, the second largest city in the six county area of Ireland still under British rule. Shops were fairly busy, families were in & out taking care of business & the city was carrying on as usual. Forty eight year old Tony Taylor, a well liked & well respected community activist & family man, was on a shopping outing with his wife & children to the Crescent Link Retail Park. Suddenly the family car was stopped & surrounded by by police cars. Tony was taken away without any explanation & brought straight to Maghaberry prison - without questioning, charge or trial. He was denied legal representation & given no specifics as to why he was being imprisoned - he was just picked up, lifted & placed behind bars. He is still there today.
Tony’s family (his wife, two teenage girls and his son, who has physical and mental disabilities and who also suffers from epilepsy) were completely traumatized by the arrest.
What family wouldn’t be?
Tony’s continued absence has his loved ones devastated. His disabled son is totally dependent now on his mother, who herself is physically and emotionally drained from her husband’s detention & his long-term absence. .
Tony himself has suffered periods of punishment & solitary confinement in Maghaberry Prison. He has had necessary medications denied him. He has been torn from his family & his community, despite “on the record” support from community leaders, the Derry City Council & leading politicians. He is facing years behind bars while supporters from Ireland & around the world have joined the “Free Tony Taylor” campaign and called for his release.
British ears remain deaf to their outrage while British eyes remain blind to the demands of justice.
In tTony’s part of Ireland that’s business as usual.
Why, you may ask, is Tony Taylor still in Maghaberry Prison today when:
No charges have been brought against him,
No evidence of wrongdoing has ever been presented,
No detailed explanation has ever been provided for his continued incarceration?
The real reason Tony Taylor is in prison is that the powers that be want to shut him up, isolate him from his community & bury him in a prison cell.
The how & why of that, however, requires a deeper look at Tony & at British law as it applies to the six counties.
Tony is defiantly opposed to British rule in any part of Ireland & has been for all of his life. He is also a leader, a tireless community worker & someone whose voice is listened to & respected.
In other words, he is someone the British fear.
In 1994 he was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he was seriously injured in a premature explosion in Derry. He was subsequently released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
In March 2014, after almost three years on remand (imprisoned without bail while awaiting trial) in Maghaberry prison, Tony was convicted and sentenced to eight years - three in custody and five out of prison but on license - for Republican activity.
When Tony emerged from Maghaberry in August 2014, he dedicated himself to rebuilding his life, while focusing his Republican activism in the political arena - on community empowerment and prisoner welfare issues. In addition, he was instrumental in rebuilding the Republican Network for Unity political party in Derry.
On October 17, 2015 Tony was detained by police in Derry and interviewed over two days at Musgrave Street Police Station about alleged republican activity. Tony was quoted as saying the timing of his arrest was deliberate and intended to prevent him from leading a protest in Derry city that day against a police recruitment event. After the two day interrogation Tony was unconditionally released by the police & his file was turned over to the public prosecutor’s office.
On July 15, 2016 the prosecutor’s office announced that no charges were to be filed against Tony.
Even after this, Tony was not released.
So what do we have? A committed Republican who, upon his release from prison, passionately becomes involved in the politics of his city & dedicates himself to his family & his community.
Isn’t that what he was supposed to do?
The government says there are no charges against him. No evidence is produced to justify his imprisonment. Yet he’s still behind bars!
Welcome to the wonderful world of British law in Ireland.
The top British official in the six counties is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This official is appointed by the Queen of England at the recommendation of the British Prime Minister. The position was created in 1974 when London took over direct rule of the north during the troubles. No Irish person has ever held the post, neither loyalist nor nationalist.
When it comes to prisoners & their license to be out of prison, the Secretary’s word is law - literally. There is no due process or channel for oversight. None. The Secretary has the only real & final say in the matter. Period. There is a parole commission that makes recommendations but its meetings are cloaked in secrecy & their recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary. He or she makes the decision, which, once made, is final.
(These commission hearings are so secret that Tony cannot even get access to them or their transcripts, even though they are about and regarding him - & are a determining factor in his imprisonment.)
In September 2012 then Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Theresa Villiers, an English aristocrat & conservative mp for the North London constituency of Chipping Barnet, as the Northern Ireland Secretary of State. Ms Villiers was so concerned about Ireland that throughout her tenure she spent three days a week in her London constituency. In March 2016 it was Ms. Villiers who revoked Tony’s license & resisted all appeals for his freedom. The only explanation she has ever given is that, in her opinion, he constituted “a public risk”.
On July 14 2016 Ms Villiers, a casualty of the Brexit vote, resigned her position & left the British cabinet altogether.
This petition calls on her replacement, James Brokenshire, the incoming Secretary of State, to review Tony’s case, do the right thing in the absence of evidence or charges & set him free. There is no justification for his continued imprisonment, nor for the continued hardship on his family.
Due process is one of the foundations of democracy & is a human right every person in Ireland is entitled to. No government should be able to imprison someone based on the whim of an appointed official. No system that calls itself “fair” should allow that to happen.
Tony Taylor deserves to be free. The British need to be put on notice that the imprisonment of Irish men & women “just because” is not acceptable in a modern democracy or in today’s world.
The time is now, the necessity is great. Our voices, raised together, can produce a shout loud enough for even the British government to hear. The opportunity to be heard & do something important is staring you right in the face.
Sign this petition & help give Tony & his family the real possibility of being together again soon.
Sign it & help give Derry one of its leaders back on the streets where he belongs.
Don’t sign it & it may be your voice they come to silence next.
As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Please join with Tony, his family, friends 8 supporters from around the world in saying: “BRITIAN, END THIS INJUSTICE NOW!”
Sign the petition by clicking on: this link