New cruelty for Marian Price

August 23, 2012

Irish political prisoner Marian Price is facing a severe health crisis. Suffering from pneumonia and other critical medical conditions, she remains a prisoner, even in the hospital.

Price received a full royal pardon for her convictions in bombings and was freed in 1980 because she appeared to be on the brink of death from severe anorexia nervosa--the result of being force-fed more than 300 times when she was on hunger strike in a British prison.

Instead of being allowed to live in freedom, however, Price has twice been arrested under Northern Ireland's "special security laws." Despite a judge ordering her release on bail, she has been imprisoned in Maghaberry and Hydebank prisons in Northern Ireland since May 2011 and spent almost all of that time in solitary confinement.

Unlike other political prisoners in the North, Price has had no trial, no sentence, no 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 Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson--who continues to refuse to do so.

Here, Sandy Boyer, the co-host of "Radio Free Eireann" and a coordinator of the Free Marian Price Campaign in the U.S., reports on Price's health and her treatment at the hands of the state.

OWEN PATERSON, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is directly responsible for the ongoing torture of Marian Price, an Irish political prisoner who has been in jail for more than a year on the basis of secret evidence.

On Thursday, August 16,, and again on Friday, August 17, Marian had to be taken from the hospital, where she is being treated for pneumonia, to the nearby Musgrave Hospital in Belfast. Each time, she was not only handcuffed, but handcuffed to a prison officer as well.

This had to be excruciatingly painful, since Marian suffers from such severe arthritis that she can't even open her hands. Her husband, Jerry McGlinchey, told "Radio Free Eireann" on WBAI, the New York Pacifica station, that she can't take her arthritis medication because it would interact with drugs she is being given for the pneumonia.

On August 17, the hospital put a tube into Marian's lung so that she could be given an endoscopy and a lung wash under a general anesthetic. She was handcuffed until she entered the operating room and again as soon as she left it.

Marian Price
Marian Price

A prison officer insisted on staying in the operating room the entire time Marian was being operated on. He declared that he was following orders from the prison administration.

The hospital protested the handcuffs and the prison officer's intrusion. The prison administration disregarded their protests.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson has the complete legal authority to free Marian Price because of her medical condition. The Life Sentences (NI) Order 2001 provides that "The Secretary of State may at any time release a life prisoner on license [parole] if he is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the prisoner's release on compassionate grounds."

Paterson maintains that Marian Price is just such a "life prisoner on license."

Marian was examined by United Nations doctors who reported she was "unable to comprehend the allegations being made against her to sufficient degree to inform her defense" and that "she would be unable to follow the evidence in her own hearing as she lacks the ability to attend to detailed evidence." Both the prison doctors and an eminent specialist who has treated her have stated that Marian Price should be released and allowed to go home to her family.

Despite this overwhelming medical evidence, Owen Paterson refuses to even consider freeing Marian Price.

MARIAN PRICE should also be released because rather than being "on license" she received a full royal pardon--the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Owen Paterson claims that this document, which would set Marian free, has been lost or shredded.

Pat Ramsey, a Social Democratic and Labour member of the Northern Ireland Assembly recently wrote to Paterson about this "lost" pardon. He asked:

-- Where would Mrs. Price-McGlinchey's pardon have been held?
-- How many staff are currently seeking the document and in what departments?
-- Are those looking for it doing so on a full-time basis, if not, why not?
-- Has the Northern Ireland Office received comment from the judiciary on the apparent loss of the document?
-- How many Royal Prerogative's have been lost (or destroyed) that the government has record of?
-- Who is ultimately responsible for the care and maintenance of the building where these documents are kept?
-- What communication [has Paterson] personally had with this person/Department?
-- Can [Paterson] confirm the Department is still seeking the document and will do so until it is found?

Paterson contemptuously dismissed Ramsey's inquiry stating that "unfortunately the RPM (Royal Prerogative of Mercy) was not recovered but has no bearing on current circumstances."

Owen Paterson has placed himself above the Northern Ireland Assembly, which was supposedly elected to govern Northern Ireland, just as he has previously overruled the judiciary. Two judges have ruled that Marian Price should be released on bail. Each time Owen Paterson negated the judge's decision and ordered her imprisoned.

Paterson is determined to keep Marian Price locked up. With the damage to her health, and the behavior of the prison administration, that is nothing but ongoing and deliberate torture.

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