Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

Marian Price


Plea for republican Price 'gravely ill' in prison despite case's collapse

(Suzanne Breen, Belfast Telegraph)

Former Old Bailey bomber Marian Price is gravely ill after months in solitary confinement, her family has said.

The extent of her illness emerged after she was found to be too unwell to stand trial or even appear in court via video-link.

A court heard that Price's health had gravely deteriorated during a year's solitary confinement in jail.

The claim was made as charges against Price and three other republicans relating to an Easter commemoration in Derry were dismissed.

The judge threw out the case after prosecution papers still weren't ready. But Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, insisted the case against Price and the others will proceed despite the ruling.

Price (58) had been charged with encouraging support for a paramilitary organisation after holding a statement from which a masked Real IRA man read.

The veteran republican was granted bail when initially charged with that offence last May but her licence was then revoked by the Secretary of State.

She was held in solitary confinement in the top security Maghaberry jail until February when she was moved to Hydebank prison which is said to have a more relaxed regime.

But Price's husband, Jerry McGlinchey, told the Belfast Telegraph that his wife's health had deteriorated rapidly in Hydebank:

"Marian is so ill that she had to be taken to a recent visit in a wheelchair. Her hair is falling out, she has lost a lot of weight, and her arthritis has got worse.

"She is suffering from severe depression after a year in solitary without any release date.

"The doctors in Hydebank have told us she's not fit to be in jail – she should either be in hospital or at home."

Mr McGlinchey claimed his wife's conditions in Hydebank were "so bad" that she has actually requested a transfer back to Maghaberry.

"She is locked in her cell far longer every day than in Maghaberry. She has much less access to fresh air and exercise," he said. "Her cell is near cells where unruly young male prisoners are housed.

"She often gets no sleep as they shout, bang on the walls, and sometimes sing the Sash all night."

When revoking Price's licence, Owen Paterson said she posed a security threat. Her lawyers claim he'd no right to do so as she'd been granted a royal pardon when freed from jail in 1980. The government claims this pardon has been lost.

Two months after her licence was revoked, Price was charged with supplying a mobile phone to those who murdered two young British soldiers at Massereene Army base in 2009. Price was granted bail on that charge.

A candlelit vigil will be held at 'Free Derry Corner' on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of Price's imprisonment.

Marian Price is the national secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement allegedly the Real IRA's political wing.

Her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly – now a senior Sinn Féin politician – were part of an 11-member IRA unit which bombed London in 1973.

Around 200 people received minor injuries when two bombs exploded outside the Old Bailey and Whitehall. One man died of a heart attack.

Price embarked on a 200-day hunger-strike in Brixton prison demanding a transfer to Armagh jail. She was force fed 400 times. She opposed Sinn Féin's political direction in 1994.

This article appeared in the May 12, 2012 edition of the Belfast Telegraph.


Prison doctors have told the British government that Marian 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


The continued imprisonment of Marian Price

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

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 Northern Ireland.

Marian Price’s 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.

Marian Price 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 air.

Each of us can help free Marian Price. We can email Owen Paterson at paterson@parliament.uk. 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 freemarian.co.nr.

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Click on the link below to hear Bernadette Devlin McAliskey speaking on the imprisonment of Marian Price at the Conway Mill in Belfast

http://vimeo.com/38266456


Marian Price waits on freedom bid

 

(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 released immediately."

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 Movement.

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 attack.

January 9, 2012
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This article appeared in the January 8, 2012 edition of the Sunday World.


Republican Marian Price reveals horror of seven months' solitary confinement in prison

(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 Movement.

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 conviction.

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 sniffer dog.

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 yard.

"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 walls."

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 its course.

"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 IRA."

Price stressed that, unlike many Sinn Féin leaders, she'd never lie about her IRA past and was "very proud" of it.

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
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This article appeared in the December 18, 2011 edition of the Sunday World


External Links to related articles

Marian Price 'refuses to meet Sinn Fein' during prison visit

Marian Price moved amid health fear

The detention of IRA veteran Marian Price harks back to internment

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