Picket on Saturday 2nd June


Picket on Saturday 2nd June.





I have received another email from Maureen re the issue of Maghaberry and Marian. She brought it back to the tanaiste here is her email.

Mary; I have below the latest reply on a Parliamentary Question I put in about human rights conditions of prisoners in Maghaberry and Hydepark. Best wishes, Maureen.

102. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he and his Department have taken, and are taking, in addressing the human rights conditions of prisoners in Maghaberry Prison, County Antrim, including the human rights of the prisoner who has been moved to Hydebank Prison. [25423/12]

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The issue of prisons within Northern Ireland is a devolved matter related to the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Arising from the Hillsborough Agreement of February 2010, Dame Ann Owers and the prison review team undertook a review of the prison system. In October 2011 their report made 40 recommendations on prison reform in Northern Ireland. The Minister for Justice, Mr. David Ford, MLA, has underlined his commitment to full implementation of the recommendations and has described the prison reform process as “unstoppable”. I had an opportunity to discuss the reform process with him at our most recent meeting on 20 April.
Implementation of the Owers report remains the most effective way to ensure that prison conditions in Northern Ireland meet the required standard. The Government will continue to raise concerns regarding the circumstances of conditions of detention of Irish citizens as appropriate.
Concerns have been raised about the circumstances of this prisoner’s detention, both in this House and directly with me by human rights organisations. The prisoner’s defence team maintain that as she was granted a royal prerogative of mercy, the terms of the licence do not apply. I discussed this issue with Secretary of State Paterson on 27 April. I have been advised that the parole commissioners considered the terms of the royal prerogative of mercy after receiving submissions on behalf of the prisoner and the Secretary of State and had ruled that “the life sentences were not in fact remitted by the royal prerogative of mercy” and that the prisoner “remains subject to the life licence”. I understand that the case is currently under review.
Concerns surrounding the prisoner’s health led to the prisoner being moved to the medical wing of Hydebank Prison where I have been informed that medical and prison administration staff are making every effort to make the prisoner comfortable. I have been advised that a medical expert has requested an assessment visit and I have asked to be informed on the outcome of that visit. In the meantime my officials are in regular contact with the authorities in Northern Ireland, human rights NGOs and others close to this case.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: The Tánaiste’s answer might have been acceptable except for the fact that these issues have been ongoing for some time.

They have been kicked to touch or from one person to another for far too long. In the meantime, the human rights issues have worsened, with solitary confinement, the denial of medical treatment, inadequate medical treatment and regular full body searches although scanners are supposed to be used. Elected representatives, human rights organisations and the Pat Finucane Centre have not received responses to their inquiries from the authorities in the North. Human rights regulations are being disregarded.
In January in response to a question I asked, the Minister for Justice and Equality stated the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade had been involved in negotiations the previous summer. This has been going on for almost a year and in the meantime the conditions for some of the prisoners have deteriorated. What other action can be taken? Action is required instead of phrases such as “we will continue to monitor it” and “we are in close consultation” before one of the prisoners dies.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: As I stated, responsibility for prisons in Northern Ireland has been devolved to the Department of Justice under the remit of the Minister, Mr. Ford, MLA. Among the issues which arise is reform of the prison service in Northern Ireland. The Minister categorically stated to us he is implementing the recommendation of the Owers report and the process is unstoppable. We have raised the issues of human rights and the conditions of the prisoners in Maghaberry Prison, in particular the prisoner moved to Highbank Prison, with the Minister and the Secretary of State, Mr Paterson, MP. I have asked departmental officials to monitor the situation very closely and keep in touch with the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice there and we will continue to do so.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: The denial of medical treatment and the way in which medication has been withheld from one of the male prisoners are very serious issues. I am also aware of issues regarding the health of Marian Price. When is a royal prerogative not a royal prerogative? Is it when it suits the authorities in the North and in England? Mr. Owen Paterson, MP, has not been elected by anyone in the North and is not accountable to the electorate in the North, but he seems to be able to disregard human rights legislation and legal issues. We speak about human rights at meetings of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and we take up the cases of prisoners in Bahrain, Iran and China. Yet, this is happening up the road and is an urgent matter because one of the prisoners will die.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Responsibility for prisons has been devolved to the Northern Ireland Administration under the aegis of the Department of Justice. With regard to the royal prerogative, three sentences were handed down to Marian Price; she was sentenced to two life sentences and one sentence of 20 years. My information is that the royal prerogative applied to the 20 year sentence and the life sentences were covered by a life licence which may be withdrawn, which is what happened in this case. I share the Deputy’s immediate concern about Ms Price’s medical condition and health and about the conditions under which she and other prisoners are detained. I wish to make clear we have raised these issues with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and the Secretary of State and we will continue to do so at political and official level.




POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Seán MacDiarmada Ard Eoin

Marian Price should be released now: MLAs

Foyle MLAs Pat Ramsey and Raymond McCartney have called once again for the immediate release of Marian Price on humanitarian grounds.

After meeting Justice Minister David Ford to discuss the issue, Sinn Fein‘s Mr McCartney said: “Marian Price should be released immediately.

“On humanitarian terms alone she should be moved to an outside hospital, never mind the fact that her continued imprisonment damages public confidence in the justice system.”

Mr McCartney said he had pressed the justice minister for the hospital transfer.

Meanwhile, Pat Ramsey met with the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, to talk about Ms Price’s case. “In what was, at times, a heated exchange, we sought to question the Secretary of State about the rationale for the continued detention of Marian Price,” he said.


Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/marian-price-should-be-released-now-mlas-16162083.html#ixzz1vhgcWYrY



Paterson: My duty is to protect the public

Owen Paterson

                                        Owen Paterson

OWEN Paterson has defended his decision to revoke the licence which allowed Old Bailey bomber Marian Price out of jail under the Belfast Agreement.

The Old Bailey bomber was returned to prison last year after intelligence provided to the Secretary of State linked her to terrorism.

She also faces a charge in connection with the murders of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks. Last week, a judge dismissed charges against Price and three men arising from an Easter commemoration.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have claimed that she is being “interned” but unionists have supported the decision.

On Sunday, the DUP’s Peter Weir said he wouldn’t “be crying too many tears” over Price.

Yesterday, in the Commons, Mr Paterson made a carefully-worded statement about “a matter of huge consequence and debate in Northern Ireland” without referring to Price by name.

He said that the Parole Commissioners, who are appointed by the Stormont Justice Minister, were responsible for decisions on the release and recall of life-sentence prisoners.

“If information is brought to my attention, I share it with the commissioners and seek a recommendation from them regarding whether to revoke a licence.

“If they recommend that I do so, I will revoke, because I have a duty to protect the public… The commissioners make their decision on whether to release the prisoner because they are no longer a risk to the public, or whether the prisoner should stay in custody. The commissioners’ decision is binding.”


A chara,
Clearly, the British Secretary of State, Owen Paterson does not understand the fundamentals of Irish history.
If he did, he would know that the interning of Irish citizens by British viceroys is anathema to all Irish people and he would appreciate that the introduction of internment has failed in the past and has exacerbated the political situation rather than cured it.
It is against the re-introduction of internment that we, the Family and Friends of Brendan Hughes, wish to register our support for the campaign to free the internees, Marian Price and Martin Corey.
Given that she is gravely ill, the internment of Marian Price is a particularly shameful human rights abuse, and rather than stick his head in the sand in the hope that the issue will go away, Mr Paterson would do well to take cognisance of the growing campaign for Marian’s release, a campaign that has the support of all shades of nationalist opinion, but particularly that of the SDLP.
We respectfully call on all Republicans and Nationalists to attend the protest march on 27 May, from Beechmount Avenue to the Buzy Bee, Andersonstown. The march starts at 2.30.
Is sinne le meas,
Terry Hughes
Paddy-Joe Rice
Gerard Hodkins
Carrie Twomey
Fra McCullagh
Tommy Gorman
Richard O’Rawe
Danny McBrearty
Ivor Bell

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :     FamilyandFriendsof BrendanHughes


On May 27th in Belfast there will be a march to highlight the ongoing internment and torture of Marian Price. The march will leave Beechmount avenue at 2.30pm and arrive at Slievegallion drive for a rally. The rally will be addressed by Marian’s husband Jerry McGlinchey and others.

 Marian has been held in isolation for over a year despite being granted bail by the courts. Last week one of the charges she faced was dismissed.. The public at this point questioned why Marian remained in prison given the charge that led to her arrest had been dismissed.

The Public Prosecution Service were prompt to respond and announce their plans to continue with the investigation. Many see this as a stalling tactic designed to facilitate Marian’s continued internment. It must be stated the other charges Marian was bailed on are charges based on third party hear say evidence.

British secretary of State Owen Paterson justified sending Marian back to prison last May by claiming to have revoked the licence she was released on when close to death in 1980. However six days after her release Marian received the royal prerogative of mercy (pardon) which made redundant the licence she was previously released on.

The British authorities have claimed to have lost or shredded this pardon. There has been no investigation to try to locate this crucial piece of evidence as Marian’s legal team are confident this document could secure her release.

At this point Marian is chronically ill and in need of urgent medical intervention. Despite recommendations by health care professionals to have Marian treated in hospital she remains in prison on bail. This week Marian will be assessed by a doctor appointed by the United Nations. Marian has been subjected to what experts define as torture and denied the most basic of human rights.

The justice for Marian campaign and Marian’s family would call on the public to support Marian  by joining the march on May 27th. The event is organised by independent human rights activists and is not affiliated to any group or organisation

WITH MANY THANKS TO : Independent Republican News

The growth of secret ’evidence’ and the case of Marian Price

The Detail

Daniel Holder is Deputy Director of the CAJ

Daniel Holder is Deputy Director of the CAJ

There were two significant reminders last week about the creeping use of secret ‘evidence.’ The first was the continued imprisonment of Marian McGlinchey (née Price) despite her three co-accused walking free when a judge threw out charges against all four. Marian Price was technically speaking already ‘out on bail’ in relation to these charges (which the Prosecution Service may now seek to resurrect). Her continued imprisonment relates not to a decision by a Court, but a separate procedure involving a government Minister and a Commission which can rely on secret evidence.

The second reminder was the UK Coalition Government’s inclusion of an ominously titled ‘Justice and Security Bill’ within the list of laws it announced it would introduce in the next Parliamentary session. The Bill would allow government Ministers to instruct ‘CMPs’ – Closed Material Procedures (i.e. secret evidence) be used in civil court processes. Our local circumstances were not for once the impetus for such a dramatic change (although as it could include the likes of ‘Troubles’ Inquests, it would have serious repercussions here). The move is in response to MI5/6 involvement in ‘war on terror’ practices such as ‘extraordinary rendition’ (i.e. the kidnap, torture and unlawful detention of persons) being increasingly challenged in Court, and in particular the compensation settlements being paid to Guantanamo Bay detainees. The Government argues it needs CMPs in order to allow secret trials to protect ‘national security. ’ They also conveniently reduce the potential to hold the Security Services accountable for malpractice or human rights abuses in which they are implicated.

There is general outrage from human rights groups over the proposals. Amidst this, we should not lose sight of the fact that secret evidence procedures already exist– many piloted and specific to this jurisdiction. Persons who have their fair employment discrimination claims blocked by a ‘national security certificate’ issued by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) can only have their claims heard in a ‘special tribunal’ involving secret evidence – which predates its better known counterpart tribunal for persons subject to ‘Control Orders.’ CAJhas asked under the Freedom of Information Act how many certificates have been issued and how often the ‘special tribunal’ has convened – only to be told that the NIO ‘did not record’ such information. Should you be subject to such processes, you can expect that both you, your lawyer, and the public will be excluded from your court hearing. Secret ‘evidence’, usually based on security force intelligence data, is then presented against you, which you cannot challenge. A ‘Special Advocate’ is appointed to represent you but cannot discuss the secret ‘evidence’ with you. At best, you and your representatives are given a ‘gist’ of what is being alleged.

Similar procedures also apply for recalling to prison persons with conflict-related convictions who were released under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Such releases were ‘under licence,’ conditional on no re-involvement in paramilitary activity. The question which arises is how the conclusion is reached that someone has returned to such activity. The decision is not on the basis of a fresh conviction for a similar serious offence proved beyond reasonable doubt in a competent court, but rather a variation of the above CMPprocess involving the NIO, Secretary of State and a Commission, which can rely on secret ‘evidence’ in a closed ‘Special Advocate’ procedure. Marian Price was released long before the 1998 Agreement, having been convicted of bombing the Old Bailey in 1973, but issued with a royal pardon in 1980. A similar process exists under the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 whereby the NIO Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, can provide the Parole Commissioners with evidence and invite them to make a recommendation to return an individual to prison. Such decisions can also be based on secret ‘evidence,’ including intelligence data, and do not require a conviction or even a charge. At worst, therefore, the process could be used selectively against ex-prisoners engaged in political activity outside the mainstream, rather than just against those genuinely involved in unlawful activity.

The case of Marian Price is particularly striking, as on the same day a Judge released her on bail in May 2011, a government Minister returned her to prison. There are other due process issues in relation to this case, not least the fact she was given a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. The NIO claims this document only related to Marian Price’s fixed term and not life sentence for which a licence applied. Her family contest that the pardon related to both, and hence believe that the NIO had no licence to revoke. It would seem a relatively simple matter for the NIO to produce the document to settle the matter. However, apparently the pardon and all copies of it have gone ‘missing.’ Given that it could possibly change a decision as to whether a person is deprived of their liberty, one would think an investigation would have taken place as to how and when the information disappeared. CAJ has been told that the NIO have decided not to investigate this on the grounds that the pardon is ‘not relevant’ to this case. Whilst decisions in ‘special tribunals’ are made on the basis of evidence that defendants cannot see, it is difficult to understand how the NIO reached this conclusion without itself viewing the document.

The dangers of secret ‘evidence’ within the justice system were set out succinctly in the case of Al Rawi, and others v the Security Services. Here, the government tried to argue that legal norms over the years (the ‘common law’) meant that it had a right to hold civil trials in secret, despite no law permitting this. The UK Supreme Court threw this out, with Lord Kerr arguing that the “right to be informed of the case made against you is not merely a feature of the adversarial system of trial, it is an elementary and essential prerequisite of fairness.”

It is this case that has led to the present Justice and Security Bill introducing CMPs. In response, Special Advocates themselves have argued CMPs “represent a departure from the foundational principle of natural justice that all parties are entitled to see and challenge all the evidence relied upon before the court and to combat that evidence by calling evidence of their own.” Put simply, evidence cannot be relied upon if you cannot challenge it.

CAJ expressed concerns about the CMP proposals, given our experience that measures which effectively bypass rule of law standards and establish, in essence, a parallel justice system, lead to human rights abuses which can exacerbate conflict as well as contributing to the growing marginalisation of ‘suspect communities.’ A further problem highlighted above is that secret evidence tends to consist of intelligence data which the Police themselves are often keen to (rightly) point out does not necessarily constitute evidence. However, under the present recall arrangements, ‘intelligence’ can effectively be used as ‘evidence’ to put an ex-prisoner behind bars.

This is of course not the first time that intelligence rather than evidence has been used to imprison; previous policies of mass arrest and internment involved lists of suspects based on ‘intelligence’ data. The lesson needs to be learned that illegitimate state practices outside the standard rule of law do not prevent but rather fuel conflict. Further growth in procedures allowing secret ‘evidence’ would have serious consequences, but in Marian Price’s case, such consequences are already apparent.

Daniel Holder is Deputy Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice

CAJ wrote a detailed response in January 2012 to the ‘Justice and Security’ Green Paper setting out the organisations concerns about the proposals – this is availablehere


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