Another one interned by decree


Alec McCrory writes on the latest in a series of British state measures which are directed towards republicans and pose a significant threat to civil liberties. From the Pensive Quill.



When Damien McLaughlin returned from a visit with his wife and young children on Tuesday, he discovered a large folder sitting on his bed. A sixth sense alerted him to the possibility of bad news. Damien had not ruled out the revocation of his licence due to the weakness of the current charges against him. With a degree of foreboding he gingerly lifted the folder removing a larger brown envelope. Inside the envelope was a letter from the British Secretary of State informing him that his licence had indeed been revoked based on security reports. No other explanation was given for this decision.

Damien was previously convicted of possessing a weapon and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was on Roe House during the protest and was subjected to dozens of brutal strip searches. His personal account of the procedure, which appeared on TPQ last year, is the most graphic and disturbing to appear to date.

He was released last year having completed more than half of his sentence. Because he fell under the terms of ‘The Criminal Justice Order 2008’ - this effectively removed fifty-per cent remission - the remainder of his sentence was to be served on probation. The conditions of release required him to meet with a probation officer on a monthly basis, inform them of all changes in his personal circumstances, provide fingerprints when requested to by the police, and to seek permission to travel. Damien was also placed on a ‘terrorist’ register for an extended period of five years.

All of this reeks of a new policy of criminalisation which political prisoners are bound to resist to the better end.

Damien McLaughlin now finds himself one of a growing number of Republicans who have been interned by decree. This policy of creeping internment has been met with little opposition from the nationalist parties at Stormont. They prefer to approach the issue on the basis of the individual injustice rather than that of systemic abuse. To shout too loudly would run the risk of alerting people to the existence of serious anomalies within the criminal justice system.

Our appointed champions of the new political order want the people to remain ignorant to the old ways of British misrule. As long as those being jailed are a tiny minority there is no need to kick-up a fuss. And if asked what we are doing about Marian Price: we are working our backsides of behind the scenes. This has become the stock response of the political parties to any questions.

Martin Corey, Marian Price, Gerry McGeough (released), Brendan McConville, John Paul Wotton, Stephen Murney, Brian Shivers and Damien McLaughlin. All of these people have families and are well respected members of their communities. Slowly, these human rights abuses are leaking out into the public arena thanks to the efforts of political and human rights activists. Many campaigns have helped to raise awareness around these issues, so much so, that more questions are now being asked about the return of internment and other forms of injustice. The people are awaking from their slumber.


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