The Workers’ Party has a long and consistent record opposing terrorism and condemning repression by the state. The Party, while unequivocally opposing Marian Price’s past activities for which she was convicted, sentenced and subsequently released and while further condemning ongoing threats and acts of violence by nationalist terror organisations (so-called “dissident republicans”) believes that the current treatment of Marian Price is unlawful, unjust and anti-democratic.
Marian Price has been held in a high-security prison since last May, when the Northern Ireland Secretary, Owen Patterson signed an order purporting to revoke her licence. She has been charged with encouraging support for an illegal organisation, arising from an Easter Rising commemoration in Derry organised by the 32-county sovereignty movement during which she held up the script from which a masked man representing a paramilitary organisation read a message.
Price was released from custody in 1980 suffering from ill-health. Her lawyers contend that her release at that time was based on a royal pardon. In those circumstances Patterson lacked the power to order her detention. The British government argues that it cannot locate the document relating to her release.
Shortly after her arrest and detention last year Marian Price was granted bail by the court. She was immediately rearrested under an order signed the previous evening. In short the state had demonstrated a blatant contempt for the ruling of the court. While in prison Price was also charged with "providing property for the purposes of terrorism" – allegedly connected to the trial for the murder of two soldiers outside Massereene barracks. She had previously been questioned about this allegation and released without charge. When she subsequently appeared before a court in Belfast she was again granted bail despite state objections but returned to prison.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the British government has sought to subvert the rule of law in these circumstances and is, in effect, subjecting her to administrative detention – internment. This is unacceptable and a violation of basic human rights. In view of the state of her health Marian Price should be permitted to obtain proper external medical care and should be released from prison forthwith pending the appropriate disposal of the charges against her.
Central Executive Committee
The Workers' Party