Marian Price campaign gains momentum
Marian Price campaign gains momentum

A packed meeting in Belfast on Thursday night heard prominent speakers denounce the continued internment of veteran republican Marian Price.

Organised in connection with International Women’s Day, the meeting was addressed by human rights activists Monsignor Raymond Murray and former Westminster MP Bernadette McAliskey.

Despite an unexpected last-minute change of venue, organisers said the meeting at Conway Mill was “a fantastic success, such was the size of the crowd that attended that people had to stand in the corridor looking in”.

The crowd heard appeals for increased public activism around her case.

Marian is a lifelong republican and was secretary of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) at the time of her detention. She has now been interned without cause for nearly a year.

Over the past eleven months her mental and physical health has severely deteriorated until she was recently moved to Hydebank Women’s Prison.

According to the IRPWA, Marian has not been transferred to Hydebank prison but rather the hospital wing there. “She will not be criminalised and will resist all attempts by the British government to treat her as a criminal”, they said.

But there is growing concern for her well-being as result of her isolation.

“Her removal to the hospital wing at Hydebank is the inevitable result of a regime of neglect and isolation she has been forced to endure,” the IRPWA said.

It also rejected a claim by British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson that she is in jail because her licence has been revoked.

“Marian was never released on licence and the British government are fully aware of this. They claim to have mislaid her pardon. This is quite simply an unbelievable excuse for the continuation of her illegal detention.”

Last week, a group of former women prisoners mounted a protest in Belfast before handing a letter into the Six County Justice Ministry.

Former INLA prisoner, Gina McElroy, said: “We know what it’s like to be women in jail but our situation was so much better than Marian Price’s.

“We were young women prisoners freely able to mix with our comrades. She’s a 58-year-old woman with serious health problems who has been held in isolation for almost a year.

“She’s being detained without charge so she doesn’t even have a release date.” McElroy said it was a “disgraceful situation that shames the British government”.

She added: “It’s a clear abuse of human rights. The UN says solitary confinement should rarely be used and never for more than 15 days. If this were happening anywhere else in the world, Britain would condemn it.”

There have been new concerns over Marian Price’s current incarceration at Hydebank. The following report about her plight was provided by the ‘Justice for Marian’ website (


The new regime she has been placed under is worse than she experienced in Maghaberry and would seem to be designed to de-personalise and further criminalise Marian Price.

She is now being held in one of three observation cells at the end of a corridor. The area is screened from the view of other prisoners who call to the centre for medication. There are monitoring cameras in the three cells two of which are locked. She has been told that the one she occupies has had the camera switched off, she has no way of knowing if this is true or not. The area is very restrictive and cramped. There is no unsupervised access to fresh air. The “Health Care Centre” is staffed by a combination of nursing prison officers who carry keys and some agency personnel. It is NOT a hospital wing. We would urge those in a position of influence to visit the prison and look beyond the visiting area.

Marian has a shower in her cell and without going into detail she has no privacy. A constant stream of prison staff enter her cell leaving her feeling like an exhibit at a time when she is feeling extremely unwell.

When I asked for a description of Marian I was told she looks physically drained, she has suffered a dramatic weight loss and is very pale - she looks extremely ill. She is also very agitated and appears to be under extreme pressure. Not surprising really given she has endured ten months of what the experts have clearly defined as torture.

To add to her hardship she is being constantly hounded to become involved in “activities” when she is so clearly unwell that she cannot. A written time-table of inane activities was given to her on Friday the 2nd of March which she considered insulting and calculated. This timetable is designed to dictate how she should spend her day from what time she should get dressed to what time she should read a book (Marian can no longer read books as she is unable to concentrate).It has been suggested to Marian that she can avail of the kitchen facilities to cook when the other prisoners are locked up. Marian’s hands are completely deformed with chronic arthritis, therefore cooking is a strenuous a task not therapy. In what is quite clearly an attempt to humiliate her Marian has been told as a treat she can be brought to the kennels to visit the sniffer dogs used in searches.

A very worrying aspect is the constant hints and suggestions of “interaction” with other prisoners. Family members witnessed this and pointed out to the governor the sensitivities involved. Marian has to constantly repeat that she is a SEGREGATED PRISONER and not a CRIMINAL. It is clear that this treatment is adding to the deterioration in Marian’s health.

It is obvious for all to see that attempts are being made to normalise what is evidently an abnormal situation. No-one appears to be taking account of the fact that Marian has been (and continues to be) held in isolation for 10 months.

I have been told Marian feels like she is “in a zoo” with so many unwanted “visitors”. She is isolated in an environment of constant interruptions which is totally unsettling. People arrive into her cell unannounced and the lack of privacy is degrading. The truth of this charade under the guise of a “health care package” must be exposed for what it is... a contrived public relations exercise to disguise the isolation and torture of a woman in need of urgent medical intervention.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News