Legal proceedings against Marian Price were adjourned on Wednesday at Derry’s Magistrate’s Court after District Judge, Mr Barney McElholm said he would have to take advice from medical professionals regarding the republican prisoner’s fitness to appear.
Price was interned almost two years ago and is unfit to stand trial after being held in isolation for over a year at Maghaberry jail.
Price is currently being held in a secure hospital unit after being transferred there via Hydebank Prison.
Addressing the court, Judge McElholm revealed he was planning to convene hearings in the hospital unit itself.
“The test here is of convenience and suitability, Those are issues for the doctors. I believe a secure hospital would be appropriate to hold the preliminary enquiry if necessary.”
Her lawyer Peter Corrigan told Mr McElholm that it would be “wrong to hold a preliminary inquiry hearing in a pseudo court situation in hospital” and he said the charge which his client denied should be dropped.
“The deterioration in her physical and mental health has been exacerbated by the prosecution of the charge against her,” he said.
But a prosecution lawyer told the court that if “all the appropriate measures” in relation to transportation and security were in place, there was no reason why the hearing could not proceed.
Fifty eight year old Price, who has suffered both physical and psychiatric ill health during her incarceration, faces charges in connection with holding a piece of paper for a masked ‘Real IRA’ spokesperson at a republican rally at the City Cemetery in April 2011.
Following her release on bail, the then British Direct Ruler justified her continued incarceration by declaring he had revoked a prison release licence dating from 1980. Her supporters have said a royal pardon, issued to her following her famous hunger strike in 1980, had rendered that argument invalid.
Judge McElholm adjourned his decision until Wednesday of next week.
Outside the court, miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon spoke out in support of the veteran republican.
Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon, who spent years in jail after being falsely convicted of a bombing in England, said keeping Marian Price in prison was an abuse of process.
Outside court he said: “To think that a process of law is being usurped by politicians in order to hold a woman, without her lawyers being able to see the accusations against her, is an abuse of justice, it is a human rights issue.
“If there is evidence to say someone has committed a crime it should be placed before the court, their lawyer should have access to it and the accusations should be made open and public.
“Justice has to be fair, open and transparent and that it is why I am here. It is not fair, it is not open and it is certainly not transparent.”
A video of the rally at Derry’s magistrate’s court is available below.