Detention of Marian Price criticised
Detention of Marian Price criticised

The British government and the Stormont establishment have been accused of using totalitarian tactics following the effective internment yesterday [Monday] of veteran republican Marian Price.

Mr Price is being held in isolation in Maghaberry jail after an order was made by the British government to revoke her prison release license, which dates from 1980.

On Monday morning, she was brought before a Derry court to face a ‘holding charge’ in connection with her attendance at an Easter commemoration organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, of which she is the secretary.

Despite being released on bail, Ms Price was instead taken directly to Maghaberry prison on foot of a decree issued on Sunday night by British Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney condemned the action. “Marian Price is entitled to due process and the revoking of her licence is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“The move by Owen Paterson 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.”

Runai ginearalta eirigi [General Secretary of eirigi] Breandan Mac Cionnaith said the move was indicative of the perilous position many republican ex-prisoners are living under.

“The deplorable decision to incarcerate Marian Price under a decades’ old licence is evidence of the Damocles’ sword the British government continues to hold over the heads of republican ex-prisoners,” he said.

“In effect, what the British government is saying is that, if you don’t toe the line, or at the very least stay silent, it has the power to make you stay silent.”

He said the move was akin to the Defence of the Realm Act, under which the British government habitually incarcerated Irish republicans in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

“Those republican ex-prisoners living under licence would never have been imprisoned in the first place had it not been for Britain’s interference in Ireland’s affairs and its creation of an armed conflict here. Threatening to return these people to prison if they are deemed to have spoken out of turn is simply heaping injustice upon massive injustice.”

He called for the immediate release of Marian Price as well as Martin Corey from Lurgan, who is being held under the same legislation.

Marian Price and her sister Dolours are renowned in republican circles for conducting a 200-day hunger strike in Brixton prison in their campaign to be repatriated to a prison in the North of Ireland.

Prison authorities subjected the women to routine and brutal force-feeding.

Both women are believed to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being force-fed, which Marian described thus: “Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with sheets you can’t struggle.

“You clench your teeth to try to keep your mouth closed but they push a metal spring device around your jaw to prise it open. They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your mouth. Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your head back. You can’t move. They throw whatever they like into the food mixer - orange juice, soup, or cartons of cream if they want to beef up the calories.

“They take jugs of this gruel from the food mixer and pour it into a funnel attached to the tube. The force-feeding takes 15 minutes but it feels like forever. You’re in control of nothing. You’re terrified the food will go down the wrong way and you won’t be able to let them know because you can’t speak or move. You’re frightened you’ll choke to death.”

Members of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee have already begun organising a campaign to call for Price’s release.

In a statement posted on the internet, a member of the group said: “Marian Price has stood by the Republican POWs and fully supported their families for years in her role in the IRPWA [Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association].

“She stayed dedicated to the cause of Irish freedom, she would not be bought when offered.

“She saw through the lie of Stormont. Now today she stands interned for her political position, by the British government, who have no legal right to be in Ireland.

“We as republicans need to stand by Marian in her current situation, just like she stood by us and get on to the streets and protest, send her letters of support and highlight her plight as best you can. They will never criminalize our struggle.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News