The summary imprisonment of Belfast man Terry McCafferty on the eve of Christmas is being viewed by republican activists as a vindictive reprisal for the release of the ‘Derry 4’, whose trial collapsed in Dublin just days before.
McCafferty was released from Maghaberry prison last month following six years of a 12-year sentence for ‘Real IRA’ activity in 2002, after receiving the standard 50% remission.
But as he and his wife Martine returned to Belfast airport in the early hours of December 22nd, from a holiday to the Canary Islands, they were confronted and surrounded by PSNI police. One of whom said “this is them here” before they were seized.
Mr McCafferty was led away as five PSNI members surrounded his wife, refusing to allow her to go with him as he was taken away.
After repeated appeals to find out why her husband was being detained, Mrs McCafferty was told by police that her husband’s “licence was revoked” - meaning that he would be sent back to prison to serve six more years of his full sentence.
When she asked why, the PSNI told her “we don’t have to explain that to you”; and that he was being taken to Antrim barracks to be sent back to Maghaberry prison in the morning.
Instead of being returned to Roe House, where he had been housed with other Irish republican political prisoners, he was put in with the criminal population. Mr McCafferty immediately refused food, demanding to be housed with political prisoners. After many efforts outside the prison, Terry was moved to Roe house at the end of the day on Monday.
“This was well planned to mess up Christmas”, Mrs McCafferty said. “It’s a kick in the teeth. It’s a form of internment - back to the 60’s and 70’s.”
Members of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Republican Network for Unity and eirigi participated in a white-line roadside protest against McCafferty’s arrest and imprisonment on the Falls Road in Belfast on Christmas Eve.
“We have little doubt that there is no reason to revoke Terry’s license and we believe it may be a spiteful reaction to the release of the Derry 4 last Friday,” the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said in a statement.
“It is quite clear that MI5 did not get the result they wanted in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin and they have ordered that Terry be imprisoned due to the fact that he has been recently released and his first Christmas with his family for years is approaching.
“It was designed to cause maximum misery to Republicans.
“The 32 County Sovereignty Movement call on all Republicans to unite to ensure that this spiteful action be overturned immediately.”
The PSNI action came as families of the ‘Derry 4’ were celebrating their release.
The trial of the four Derry men accused of ‘Real IRA’ membership collapsed dramatically on its eleventh day at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin on December 19th.
The court heard during the trial that the men were arrested a day after a Real IRA ‘press conference’ which was filmed by the BBC in the Creggan area of the city. The trial collapsed when their detention prior to their arrest was ruled to have been illegal.