Prison doctors have told the British government that Marion Price urgently needs to be hospitalized
Instead she is still in solitary confinement in a British prison. You can help to free Marian Price at an afternoon of solidarity on Sunday March 22 at 2pm at Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke. Everyone who attends will be able to send a message to British Secretary of State Owen Patterson demanding that she be set her free.
There will be performances from musicians including Chris Byrne, Mary Courtney and Peadar Hickey. There will also be readings and special video and slide presentations.
Marian Price has already spent 336 days in solitary confinement. Come and help to end her suffering.
Details/directions: Rocky Sullivan (718) 246-8050
Marian Price is the only woman political prisoner in Northern Ireland. She is effectively interned and could spend the rest of her life in a British prison without a trial, sentence, release date or even a date when the Parole Commission will review her case.
Unless the courts intervene, she will only be released by order of a British Cabinet Minister, Owen Paterson, the Secretary of Northern Ireland.
Twice she has been arrested and brought before a non-jury Diplock Court. Twice a judge has ordered her released on bail.
Each time Owen Paterson overruled the judge and ordered her back to prison. He said that he was revoking her license (parole in American terms).
In May, she was charged with “encouraging support for an illegal organization” after she held up a piece of paper from which a masked man read a statement. Northern Ireland must be one of the very few places where holding up a piece of paper can constitute a crime.
In July, she was charged with “providing property for the purposes of terrorism.” She was accused of giving a cell phone to someone who participated in the killing of two British soldiers. She had been questioned about this and released 18 months before being charged. Her solicitor, Peter Corrigan, told the BBC that there was no new evidence against her.
Once again she was released on bail, and, again, Owen Paterson said he was revoking her license and ordered her back to prison.
But Marian Price and her legal team insist that she was never actually on license. They say that after being convicted of IRA bombings in Britain, she received a full royal pardon (the “Royal Prerogative of Mercy”) when she was freed in 1980 after she appeared to be on the brink of death from severe anorexia nervosa.
The Northern Ireland Office now says the pardon “cannot be located” – that it has been lost or shredded. Peter Corrigan recently told a Belfast meeting that this is the only time in the entire history of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy that a pardon has gone missing. The veteran human rights campaigner, Monsignor Raymond Murray, said that “You can draw your own conclusions.”
Still, Marian Price remains in prison. Her lawyers plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
There is good reason to be concerned about Marian Price’s health and well being. She has been in solitary confinement for more than 300 days although the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called for totally prohibiting solitary confinement for more than 15 days.
Her health was permanently damaged when she was force fed over 400 times when she was on hunger strike in a British prison. She described the force feeding thus in an interview with Suzanne Breen in The Village magazine: “Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with sheets you can’t struggle. You clench your teeth to try to keep your mouth closed but they push a metal spring device around your jaw to prise it open. They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your mouth. Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your head back. You can’t speak or move. You’re frightened you’ll choke to death.”
Marian Price’s husband, Jerry McGlinchey, said in an interview with “Radio Free Eireann” that he is “very, very worried” about her health. He says she never recovered from the force feeding which caused tuberculosis that had to be treated as recently as 2010.
The anorexia has returned and she suffers from such severe arthritis that she can’t even open her hand.
McGlinchey believes that Marian’s health will get steadily worse as long as she is in solitary confinement.
He said: “My fear is that Marian will slip into a deep depression that it would take her years to come out of. I believe that is what the government intends.”
Very few people in Ireland, or Irish America, agree with Marian Price’s politics. She is a “dissident” Irish republican who believes in the necessity of an armed struggle to end British rule. Nevertheless, both Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party have called for her release.
But what is at stake is more than Marian Price or her politics. The Irish civil rights leader Bernadette Devlin McAliskey told the Belfast meeting, “From the government’s perspective it is a clear signal to everybody who is not “on board” and who is not of the same mind as the government: that no dissent will be tolerated. No dissent will be tolerated and you challenge the status quo at your peril.”
There will be a program of music and readings in solidarity with Marian Price on Sunday April 22 at 2 p.m. at Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook.
Sandy Boyer is the co-host of “Radio Free Eireann” broadcast Saturdays at 1 p.m. on WBAI, 99.5 FM or wbai.org. Over the years he has helped to mobilize support for political prisoners including Roisin McAliskey, the Birmingham 6, Pól Brennan and Joe Doherty.
You can help free Marian Price
could be in a British prison for the
rest of her natural life. Unlike other
political prisoners in the North, she
has had no trial, no sentence, no
release date and not even a date when
the Parole Commission will review her
case. Unless the courts intervene, she
will only be released by order of Owen
Paterson, the Secretary of State for
health was permanently damaged because
she was force fed over 400 times when
she was on hunger strike in a British
prison Her husband, Jerry McGlinchey,
told “Radio Free Eireann” that the force
feeding caused tuberculosis that had to
be treated again just last year. She
suffers from such severe arthritis that
she can't even open her hand.
is being held in conditions designed to
break her body and spirit. There is a
camera in her cell. She has been told
it is switched off but there is no way
to know if that is true. She has no
privacy because prison staff is
constantly going in and out of her cell.
There is no unsupervised access to fresh
us can help free Marian Price.
We can email Owen Paterson at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him to
free Marian Price immediately.
This may be
especially important for those of us who
don’t live in Ireland. The British
government has often proven vulnerable
to international pressure.To learn more
about Marian Price and get the latest
updates on her case go to
Click on the link below to hear
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey speaking on
the imprisonment of Marian Price at the
Conway Mill in Belfast
(Suzanne Breen, Sunday World)
Old Bailey bomber Marian Price will hear
this week if she's to be freed from
Maghaberry jail where she has been held for
eight months in solitary confinement.
Price appeared before the life sentence
review commission in the top security jail
two weeks ago.
Her legal team are arguing that by
continuing to imprison her, without charge,
the British government is acting illegally.
The commission is due to announce its
decision on the fate of the North's most
famous female republican within days.
The 57-year-old mother of two was
arrested and charged with holding a
statement for a masked Real IRA man at an
Easter commemoration in Derry in April.
She was granted bail by the court but
Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, then
withdrew her licence and returned Price to
prison. Her lawyer claims he'd no legal
right to do so.
A lengthy hunger-strike and force-feeding
in Brixton prison had left Price gravely
ill. Weighing only five stone and suffering
from tuberculosis and anorexia, she was
released on licence in 1980.
Weeks later, she was granted the royal
prerogative of mercy. But the British now
claim to have lost Price's pardon.
Solicitor Peter Corrigan said: "The royal
pardon my client received wiped the slate
clean so she couldn't be returned to jail on
the basis of previous offences.
"Owen Paterson didn't have the power to
send her back to prison. We've repeatedly
asked the NIO to produce the pardon which
would free her.
"They've told us it's probably been
shredded. This is all very convenient. Since
this pardon hasn't been produced, the lawful
course of action is for Marian Price to be
In an interview from behind bars last
month with the Sunday World, Price
spoke of the toll solitary confinement had
taken on her health.
Her hands and arms were covered in
psoriasis, brought on by stress. She has
shed several stones in weight and is losing
her hair. She spoke of the "mind-numbing
boredom" of isolation.
However, she refused to condemn dissident
republicanism or 'armed struggle'.
Price's husband, Jerry McGlinchey, said
his wife's release was a human rights'
issue: "People don't have to agree with
Marian's politics to see that what's going
on is wrong.
"The UN recommends that prisoners are
held in solitary only in exceptional
circumstances and for no more than 15 days.
My wife has been held eight months in
isolation in a male prison. We are meant to
be living in a civilised state."
Once a close associate of Gerry Adams,
Price became disillusioned with Sinn Féin in
the mid-1990s and joined the dissident
political group, the 32 County Sovereignty
With her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly,
now a senior Sinn Féin politician, Price was
part of an IRA team which planted four bombs
in Britain, including one at the Old Bailey.
Around 200 people were injured, mainly with
flying glass. One man died of a heart
January 9, 2012
This article appeared in the January 8, 2012
edition of the
(Suzanne Breen, Sunday World)
Old Bailey bomber, Marian Price, has defiantly
refused to condemn the dissident republican campaign despite
spending seven months in solitary confinement in jail.
The North's most high-profile female republican
revealed the terrible toll her time in isolation in Maghaberry
prison has taken on her physical and mental health.
But in an exclusive interview from behind bars
with Sunday World, she wouldn't condemn dissident
republicanism or 'armed struggle'.
"I remain a proud and unrepentant republican. I
make no apology for that," she said.
Price claimed as long as Britain remained in the
North, "Irish people have a right to resist that occupation".
Once a close associate of Gerry Adams, she
became disillusioned with Sinn Féin in the mid-1990s and joined
the dissident political group, the 32 County Sovereignty
Speaking from Maghaberry jail, she admitted only
a tiny minority of people share her views which have little
electoral support. "I accept what you're saying but being a
republican isn't about entering a popularity contest – it never
has been," she claimed.
Price, a 57-year-old mother of two, has been
held without charge in isolation in the all-male jail since
Secretary of State Owen Paterson revoked her licence in May.
Along with her sister, Dolours, she became a
household name when she went on a lengthy hunger-strike and was
force fed in Brixton prison. Gravely ill with tuberculosis and
anorexia, and weighing only five stone, Price was released on
licence in 1980.
Weeks later, she was granted a royal pardon. Her
lawyer claims this superseded the licensce, meaning she could
never be returned to jail on the basis of her previous
Asked repeatedly in court to produce the pardon,
the NIO says it has been "lost" and probably shredded. Price
will appear before the life sentence review commission in
Maghaberry on Wednesday.
Solicitor Peter Corrigan, will argue that she be
freed immediately. "It's very convenient that the only lost
document in this case is the pardon," he said. Corrigan revealed
the UN special rapporteur on torture recently called for
solitary confinement to be banned in all but "exceptional
circumstances" and for it never to last more than 15 days.
"Marian Price has been in solitary seven months.
This shouldn't happen in a civilised country. Even those who
vehemently oppose my client's politics must realise this amounts
to inhuman and degrading treatment," he said.
There's tight security on my visit to see Price.
I'm photographed, fingerprinted three times, walked through an
airport-type scanner, subjected to a body search and then the
Price sits alone in a large, soulless room in an
isolated part of the jail. Neatly dressed in a cream top and
grey trousers, wearing a Celtic cross on a gold chain and pearl
earrings, she seems more like a middle-class professional woman
than a republican prisoner.
Calm, but clearly stressed, Price said: "I get
three visits a week in Maghaberry. Those three hours'
conversation is the only contact I have with other human beings.
Of course, it's taking its toll on me."
Her hands and arms are covered in psoriasis,
brought on by stress. She's shed several stones in weight and is
losing her hair. "When I brush it every morning, it falls into
the wash-hand basin in clumps," she said.
The DUP claim she's enjoying a life of luxury in
the Co Antrim prison. "That's ludicrous," she said, describing
in detail her existence in a small sparse cell and tiny exercise
"My cell is 10 x 7 ft. It has a bed, a toilet, a
wash-basin and a TV which I pay for. During the day, I have
access to a recreation room – with a TV – and a shower room
which was so filthy I'd to clean it myself before using it."
The perimeter of her exercise yard measures just
85 paces and is surrounded by a 25-ft high wall.
She speaks of the "mind-numbing boredom" of
solitary. She's allowed only two books a week. She reads Swedish
crime writer Stieg Larsson's novels and surprisingly the
right-wing British Daily Mail "for the word puzzles".
She watches nature and current affairs'
documentaries on TV. Again confounding the Irish republican
stereotype, her favourite programmes are the English period
dramas 'Downton Abbey' and 'The House of Elliott' – "I love the
fashion, especially the hats and the coats with the embroidered
sleeves!" she declares.
She praised the female prison officers who are
nearly all from the unionist community: "Bar a few, they've been
lovely and many have been very kind. In a different life, we'd
be friends. But the reality in Maghaberry is I'm the prisoner
and they're my jailers."
With her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly, now a
senior Sinn Féin politician, Price was part of an IRA team which
in 1973 planted four bombs in Britain, including one at the Old
Bailey. Around 200 people were injured, mainly with flying
glass. One man died of a heart attack.
The sisters were arrested about to fly home from
Heathrow. While on hunger-strike in Brixton jail, Price was
force-fed 400 times over six months. That stopped when a doctor
mistakenly put the tube into her lung and she lost consciousness
and nearly died.
"The moment I was imprisoned in Maghaberry, in
my head I was instantly back in jail in England. I was
institutionalised again. It was like the last 30 years didn't
exist. I'd got married and had two daughters but it was as if
that hadn't happened and I'd never had a life beyond prison
Price is currently facing two charges relating
to dissident activity – holding a speech for a Real IRA member
at an Easter commemoration and allegedly providing a mobile
phone for terrorist use.
She was granted bail on both charges. When asked
if she regretted involvement with dissident republicanism, she
replied: "I'm not whinging about either charge. Let justice take
"If convicted, I'll serve my sentence without
complaint. But I object to being held as a political hostage
without charge because of my past, not my present."
She added: "I'm in Maghaberry because Gerry
Adams as OC of the Belfast Brigade sent me to bomb Britain in
1973 when I was 19. But then my memory must be deceiving me. I
must have the wrong man because Gerry Adams was never in the
Price stressed that, unlike many Sinn Féin
leaders, she'd never lie about her IRA past and was "very proud"
Asked if she'd condemn dissident attacks, she
replied: "The 1916 Proclamation upholds the right of Irish
people to take up arms as long as Britain occupies Ireland. I
stand by the Proclamation which hangs in Enda Kenny's office."
She's even more uncompromising than her male
comrades. When a Sinn Féin delegation, including MLAs Jennifer
McCann and Raymond McCartney, visited Maghaberry, the men
dissident prisoners met them.
Price refused: "The prison staff said, 'Your
friends are here to see you.' I told them 'These people are no
friends of mine. If they try to visit me, lock me in my cell.'"
Price claimed the NIO wouldn't have revoked her
licence without approval from Sinn Féin and the DUP. "Sinn Féin
might be hypocritical but I'm not. I wasn't having them shedding
crocodile tears over my case to appease their grassroots."
December 18, 2011
This article appeared in the December 18, 2011
edition of the
External Links to related articles
Marian Price moved
amid health fear
The detention of IRA veteran Marian Price harks back to internment