Marian Price interned
Marian Price interned

Prominent dissident republican Marian Price has been summarily jailed by the British government following her rearrest at a Derry courtroom today.

The order to send Ms Price to jail came last night on the eve of her court appearance, where she faced the unprecedented charge that she had encouraged support for an illegal organisation.

Ms Price is secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee and chairperson of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association. The court had heard a claim that she threatened to disrupt the visit to Ireland of British monarch Elizabeth Windsor this week.

A PSNI sergeant told the court: “The 32 County Sovereignty Movement have openly said they will carry out acts to disrupt events occurring in the near future like the royal visit and that may mean future public order events which the defendant might involve herself in.”

Although the judge at Derry Magistrate’s Court ordered her to be released on bail, the 57-year-old was immediately rearrested on foot of the order last night by British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson. She now faces a life term, according to some reports.

Ms Price had been jailed in 1973 for her role in the Provisional IRA’s armed struggle. She was released from prison on licence in 1980 on medical grounds. It is thought this licence has now been revoked after 31 years.

Her lawyer Peter Corrigan said: “I believe this is not lawful and it drives a coach and horse through the presumption of innocence.”

It had been thought the legal status of former prisoners previously released under licence, such as Ms Price, was resolved under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, when all Provisional IRA prisoners were released.

But the move to effectively intern Ms Price at Maghaberry jail today has dramatically escalated tensions in the North and comes amid a wave of intimidation and repression of republicans linked to the royal visit, which begins tomorrow in Dublin.

The 32 County Sovereignty Committee described the charge brought against Ms Price on Sunday as “ridiculous”.

“It is quite clear that the RUC/PSNI were told to arrest Miss Price by the highest level of the British political/security apparatus and there is no doubt that this arrest and recent arrests of other pepublicans are a prime exmple of political policing in advance of the British queen’s visit to Ireland.

“Republicans must be wary in the coming days as this arrest and these charges set a dangerous precedent and are aimed at disrupting the legitimate political work of our movement.

“We will resist all such attempts at criminalisation.”

Neither the 32 County Sovereignty Committee nor Sinn Fein has yet responded to Ms Price’s internment today, although grassroots republicans have expressed their shock at the turn of events.

Ms Price is due to reappear in court again by videolink from Maghaberry Prison on the 9 June in connection with Sunday’s charges.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News