Sinn Féin party president Gerry Adams and Six-County Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have written to US political leaders urging them to support calls to free Marian Price from prison.
They have urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Congressman Peter King, who chairs the Congressional Friends of Ireland, and Richard Neal of the Friends of Ireland committee to lobby the Dublin and London governments.
In their letter Mr McGuinness and Mr Adams said her human rights had been breached amid concerns she is not fit to stand trial. Mr Adams was travelling to the US this week to lobby for support of Sinn Féin’s campaign for border poll, a proposed Six-County ballot on Irish reunification.
“Mrs Price McGlinchey has been held in virtual solitary confinement since her arrest in May 2011 and is very ill,” they said.
Ms Price’s condition has deteriorated to the point of hospitalisation as a result of being held in isolation, firstly at Maghaberry [all male] Prison and subsequently at Hydebank Women’s Prison.
In their letter Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness described the imprisonment of Marian Price, who is also known by her married name McGlinchey, as “a serious case of injustice and denial of human rights and judicial rights in the North of Ireland.”
“Marian Price McGlinchey has been held in virtual solitary confinement by the British Government since her arrest in May 2011,” they wrote.
“Sinn Féin is very concerned about the manner and conditions in which Mrs Price McGlinchey has been detained.
“We believe that her detention is unjust and runs contrary to the principles of natural justice.
“She has been detained without trial on the basis of secret reports by British intelligence agencies.
“Everyone is entitled to due process and to a fair trial. Mrs Price McGlinchey has been denied this, representing, in our view, a serious breach of her human rights...
“We believe very strongly that Marian Price McGlinchey should be released. Her human rights have been breached. She has been denied justice and due process. She is seriously ill. Her detention undermines the justice system and the political process. She clearly presents no threat to anyone.”
Sinn Féin also backed former party leadership figure turned independent, Gerry McGeough during a bitter debate on the high-profile republican at the Stormont Assembly this week.
After standing for election as an independent to the Assembly in 2007, Mr McGeough was suddenly arrested in connection with an IRA gun attack dating from 1981, and returned to jail.
Sinn Féin said McGeough’s incarceration was political and unjustified.
Speaking on a unionist motion in support of Mr McGeough’s alleged target in 1981, former British [UDR] soldier Samuel Brush who is now a DUP councillor, Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin said Mr McGeough should have been protected from arrest by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the 2001 Weston Park Agreement.
“It is a matter of record and indeed long before he was rearrested he made clear his support for the peace process, he made clear that his war was over and that we were in a post-conflict scenario so his entitlement under the Weston Park Agreement (2001) was quite flagrantly set aside,” he said.
DUP leader Peter Robinson described Mr McGeough as “a bloody and evil terrorist who sought in a cowardly fashion to take the life of a public servant”.
Dungannon and South Tyrone Council, of which Mr Brush is a member, last month joined a number of other councils across Ireland that have called for Mr McGeough’s release. The motion infuriated the DUP and prompted this week’s Assembly motion, which passed with the support of the main unionist parties.
In a response from Maghaberry, Mr McGeough said the “surrealism” that pervades the Stormont Assembly had been “laid bare”.
“As the paragons of the DUP engaged in a pointless hour-and-a-half-long hate-filled sectarian tirade against me, more than 320 job losses were being announced in Ballymena, one of the North’s last Unionist strongholds.
“In their sad, pathetic attempts to demonise me, Unionist politicians were in reality deflecting attention from the fact that they are utterly useless... The Irish Protestants of Ulster deserve better leadership than the weak, bitter, Peter Robinson or the quasi-hysterical, spiteful and largely incompetent [DUP Minister] Arlene Foster can ever offer.”