Derry republican Tony Taylor has issued a statement from Maghaberry prison appealing for public support on the second anniversary of his internment.
Mr Taylor was ordered to be interned without trial by the former British Direct Ruler, Theresa Villiers, in March 2016. He had previously been freed under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
A campaign for his release has won widespread support and has been formally supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council. Posters calling for the release of Mr Taylor have been erected across the district. They have become the focus or unionist anger, however, because they carry the official council logo.
DUP councillor David Ramsey described Mr Taylor as “an unrepentant terrorist” and that he should continue to be locked up. He claimed the posters were “insulting, dangerous and damaging to community relations”.
But others across the political spectrum have spoken out in favour of the campaign.
“The case of Tony Taylor should be of concern to all progressives,” said Matt Collins of People before Profit.
“Tony has been interned for over 700 days without any proper court hearing or due process. He is locked up at the say so of the Secretary of State. This is internment plain and simple.”
“The state should not be allowed to incarcerate people without a proper trial. Civil rights mean nothing unless they are civil rights for everyone, whatever their politics.”
“History is replete with examples of the disastrous effects of internment on communities here. I am calling on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to release Tony Taylor as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Taylor appealed to people to support a march and rally marking the anniversary of his return to prison this Saturday [today] from Derry’s courthouse to the city’s Guildhall Square, starting at 2pm. A protest against his continuing detention is to be held today at the International wall in West Belfast.
His statement reads:
It is now approaching 47 years since the British government enacted the Special Powers Act and began the process of internment without trial.
Then like today, people from right across the city and six counties were dragged from their families imprisoned indefinitely without due process.
Unfortunately, contrary to what the British Government, its forces and its media outlets would have you believe internment without trial is alive and well in Ireland today.
Almost two years to the day I was dragged from our family car in front of my wife and children detained and imprisoned in Maghaberry Jail where I have been ever since.
I have not been afforded a trial and remain imprisoned upon the word and secret evidence of the British State intelligence agency MI5.
As we approach the 47th anniversary of the introduction of interment in 1971, it is telling, is it not, that the British government is still employing such draconian legislation to imprison those in political opposition.
As a consequence, and as a victim of such action, I once again need and ask for your attendance this Saturday evening March 10 at a rally organised calling for my immediate release. Gathering outside Derry Court House at 2pm, ending in short walk to Guildhall Square.
In finishing, I would like to emphasise that it is vital that we get as many people as possible to attend this event and the many others organised right across Ireland and further afield. Therefore, I call on all to make every effort to mark this event because without you and your voice me and my family would be very much alone in this fight for justice.
So once again thank you to each and every one of you for your continued support, myself and my family will be forever grateful.
Tony Taylor, Political prisoner, Maghaberry Roe 3