NORTH’S ‘FAILURE’ TO DEAL WITH THE PAST RAISED BY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL !

AMNESTY IInternational has raised concerns over failures to deal with the past in the North of Ireland in its annual report on Human Rights.

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The organisation highlighted problems including ongoing violence and threats by republican and loyalist paramilitary groups. It also raised concerns over a “ccontinuing failure” of the British government to establish an “independent thorough and effective inquiry” into the 1989 killing of solicitor Pat Finucane. But the human rights body welcomed reforms being Carried out by the Police Ombudsman Michael Magurie, to improve hhistorical investigations into police misconduct. It also noted the executive’s establishment of an institutional child abuse inquiry. Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International‘s Northern Ireland programme director, said it was clear the north “continues to struggle with the legacy of its recent past”. The British government, he said, had failed to put in place “adequate mechanisms to deal comprehensively with many killings over many killings over many years of violence”. “The year ahead provides new opportunities to not only reform and improve existing mechanisms – and we welcome some steps already being taken in that direction – but also to think anew about how an overall process to deal with the past can be agreed, so that Northern Ireland’s past does not also become its further,” he said. The report highlighted problems in the Republic over prison conditions for young offenders, violence against women and girls and a lack of clarity on abortion laws. Amnesty International said until abortion was allowed in cases of rape and incest, risk to a women’s health, or cases of fatal foetal abnormality, the Republic would be out of line with international humabn rights standards.

With many thanks to : Brendan HughesIrish News.

“But no mention on the Human Rights abuses by the PSNI, or the ongoing injustice’s still happening in 2013 in the North of Ireland and with the likes of the continued imprisonment of Martin Corey and Marian Price amoungst others – Seachranaidhe Irishandproud.

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RELEASE MARIAN PRICE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH LET HER TORTURE END

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HARK:Northern Ireland Human Rights Initiative

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, veteran Irish civil rights leader, said in response to the case of Irish republican Marian Price, who was returned to jail in 2011: “It is a clear signal to everyone 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.”.

Marian Price, 59, is a long-time Irish republican activist and ex-Irish Republican Army volunteer. She was given two life sentences over bomb blasts in London in March 1973 that targeted a British army recruitment centre and Old Bailey courts. Price was one of nine republicans sentenced, including her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly, who is now Sinn Fein MLA for North Belfast.

Price was given a “royal pardon” in 1980 and left prison suffering from poor health and weighing only five stone. The Price sisters had spent 200 days on hunger strike demanding to be transferred to a jail in Ireland’s north, where republican prisoners had political status.

They were both forcibly restrained and force-fed three times a day over the last 167 days of the hunger strike.

Despite her health issues and prolonged jailing, Price remained politically active after her release. Her outspoken criticism of British rule caused problems for the British administration, who had probably hoped she would quietly fade from the political scene.

Price’s continued activism and vocal support for republicanism kept her under scrutiny and made her a target for British security services.

Jailed on orders of government official

Price was returned to prison in 2011, not on the basis of fresh evidence or any new offence. Rather, then-British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson ordered her detention and charged her with encouraging support for an illegal organisation.

The basis of this charge is that Price attended a 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration held in Derry; one of many held by Irish republicans each year. At the event, Price held up a piece of paper for a masked man from the 32-County Sovereignty Movement as he read out a message.

Three days later, Price was arrested. She was then granted bail, but arrested again after she left the court on Paterson’s orders.

This time, the reason was based on secret information from the British intelligence services, which claims the evidence cannot be revealed due to national security concerns.

Later, Price was also charged with “providing property for the purposes of terrorism”; this allegedly related to her purchase of a phone, which authorities “think” was later used by attackers who killed two soldiers in 2009.

Price’s supporters believe this is merely an attempt by the British authorities to link her with a crime. No evidence or connection to the incident was produced and she was again granted bail by the court.

Yet Price remains in prison due to Paterson’s order.

Price’s real transgression seems to be her critical remarks about conditions in the six Irish counties still claimed by Britain, and of the Good Friday Agreement that lead to the power-sharing arrangement between Sinn Fein and parties that support British rule in the north.

Solitary confinement

After her arrest, Price was held in solitary confinement in the all-male Maghaberry high security prison for more than nine months, despite not being convicted of any crime.

Then in February last year, Price was taken to Hydebank Women’s Prison where she served another nine months in solitary confinement.

In May last year, the so-called charges involving the Easter Commemoration incident were thrown out of court by a judge. Still Price remained in prison as her mental and physical health rapidly deteriorated.

Then in June, by now seriously ill, she was transferred to a secure ward at Belfast hospital.

The European Court and former Commission on Human Rights, as well as the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), have said the use of solitary confinement can be classified as torture, depending on the circumstances.

The CPT has also said that solitary confinement “can amount to inhuman and degrading treatment” and has on several occasions criticised such practices. It has recommended reforms such as abandoning specific regimes, limiting the use of solitary confinement to exceptional circumstances, and/or securing inmates a higher level of social contact.

Furthermore, the revised European Prison Rules of 2006 have clearly stated that solitary confinement should be an exceptional measure and, when used, should be for as short a time as possible.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has also stated that prolonged solitary confinement constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment prohibited under Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

The UN’s lead investigator on torture, Juan Mendez, has called for governments to end the use of long spells of solitary confinement in prison. Mendez said such isolation could cause serious mental and physical damage and amounted to torture.

He further said that short term isolation was permissible only for prisoner protection, but all solitary confinement longer than 15 days should be banned.

Support for Price

In a joint statement in November last year appealing to US officials visiting Ireland to support calls for the release of Price, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland Executive Martin McGuinness said: “[Price’s treatment is a] serious case of injustice and denial of human rights and judicial rights in the north of Ireland.

“We believe that her detention is unjust and runs contrary to the principles of natural justice. We believe very strongly that Marian Price McGlinchey should be released.

“ Her human rights have been breached. She has been denied justice and due process. She is seriously ill. Her detention undermines the justice system and the political process.

“She clearly presents no threat to anyone.”

The campaign to release Price has encompassed a diverse range of people and political, social and community organisations across Ireland and elsewhere. Calls for her freedom have been backed by the two parliamentary nationalist parties in the north, Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP).

Adams called for Marian’s release in November, January and again in March. McGuinness has also appealed several times for her release, most recently at Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis (congress). He also attended and gave evidence at the Parole Commissioners hearing a short time ago.

SDLP leader Alistair McDonnell called for her release on March 30. SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey has been a vocal supporter of the release of Price, as has Lisburn independent councillor Angela Nelson.

The campaign is also supported by a wide range of republican and national groups, including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (of which Price is a member), Irish Republican Socialist Party, Republican Network for Unity, Eirigi, Republican Sinn Fein, Irish Freedom Committee, Friends of Irish Freedom, the Celtic League, the United Celtic Brotherhood and the 1916 Societies.

Calls for Price’s freedom have also come from Dublin City Council, Fermanagh Council, Dungannon Council, Galway Council, Derry Council, Sligo Council and Omagh Council.

Among other groups calling for Price’s release are the Scottish Republican Socialist Party and Human Rights Watch UK.

Justice

Devlin McAliskey said: “I think what is very important for people to recognise that what is happening to Marian is not an isolated case. While it’s happening here in Northern Ireland and we have had to call upon the UN Rapporteur for Health to exercise his authority to examine it … [it relfects] the arrogance [of] many of the Western powers …

“I think Marian’s case is symptomatic of those things we see every day … That people can still be imprisoned without due process and that many countries, particularly in the very powerful Western alliances, feel that UN resolutions and UN protections are for protecting them from their enemies, but not people from powerful states.

“Marian’s case is not just something peculiar to the Northern Ireland situation. The increasing confidence with which fundamental human rights and due process and protections are being ignored ― I think is frightening.”

The treatment of Price amounts to a return to the bad days of interment without trial, enforced by the British on the nationalist community in Ireland’s north in the early 1970s.

Price is being held purely because of her views and criticisms. She is being selectively targeted because she refuses to remain silent in the face of British coercion and repression.

The British justice system’s mistreatment of Price has again exposed it as the disgraceful, hypocritical and discriminatory structure that it is, a fact that Irish people have experienced throughout the colonial occupation of Ireland.

Price’s case reveals the contempt the British judicial system has for genuine fairness and due process.

Twice she was granted bail by judges, only to be rearrested due to orders signed by the Northern Ireland secretary of state. Price has been illegally imprisoned. The lack of a genuine case against Price and her jailing without due process is a travesty that must be remedied by her unconditional freedom.

Price’s human rights are being grossly violated by her long-term incarceration. She is effectively detained without trial, sentence or release date. This means she could be held for an indefinite time, an illegitimate procedure that allows the British administration to hold her for the rest of her life if it so desires.

On the basis of compassion, legal, civil and political rights, and those of common sense, Price should be released immediately.

IRISH TD’s RAISE CRAIGAVON TWO IN IRISH PARLIAMENT, DURING A MOTION DISCUSSING 15 YEARS SINCE THE BELFAST AGREEMENT !

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Justice for the Craigavon Two

Irish TD’S raise Craigavon Two in the Irish Parliament. during a motion discussing 15 years since the Belfast agreement.

Find below some transcripts of the debate

Eamon O Cuiv.

I am surprised that the motion does not mention justice issues, particularly those which relate to prisoners in the North of Ireland. Deputy Ó Snodaigh is well aware of the matter to which I refer because he visited a number of prisons in that jurisdiction in the company of some Deputies and Senators who have shown great interest in these issues in recent times. I will try to outline the nature of the issues to which I refer and also of the injustices that have been perpetrated. I recognise that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Taoiseach have made representations in respect of these issues. It is important, however, to place on the public record the facts about what is happening.

I wish, first, to refer to the case of Marian McGlinchey – also known as Marian Price – and Martin Corey. Both of these individuals were released on licence many years ago. Marian was actually released in the very early 1980s. In the past two years, they were both arrested and imprisoned. Neither they nor we know what the allegations against them are. It seems extraordinary that, at this remove, someone can be put in prison and not be informed as to the nature of the evidence against them. These people were arrested and imprisoned on the order of the British Secretary of State. There is no limit to the amount of time that can be taken to hear their cases. If parole is refused, neither will be informed of the grounds for this. It is impossible to refute evidence if one does not know the nature of it. If this was happening in any other part of the world, motions of condemnation of a state which allowed such a justice system to obtain would be tabled all over the place.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan and I visited Marian Price in hospital yesterday. Ms Price has been in hospital for nearly a year and last week she was moved to an acute unit. She is suffering from a multitude of ailments and her immune system is breaking down as a result of the various medicines with which she is being treated. I am concerned about the ongoing incarceration of these two people.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to go into his case. Both cases are effectively detention without trial and will do more to destabilise the peace process than anything else of which one can dream.

Why were Mr. Gary Adams and Mr. Gerry McGeough, the so-called on-the-runs, picked to be put in prison? As Mr. McGeough was released after two years, it is obvious that the system does not view him as a threat to society. A part of the delay in Mr. Adams’s case has to do with who he was with he was in prison. It is extraordinary that someone could be refused parole because he or she was put into a certain part of a prison. I assure the Minister that choice of who to associate with in prison is not that great.

Regarding the so-called dissidents, a dirty protest continued for more than one year. When it concluded last year, undertakings were given in respect of change. Judging by what we were told during our visit to HM Prison Maghaberry yesterday, no change has occurred. It further transpired that many of the people in question were in prison on indefinite remand for court cases that were still awaited. The remand period can continue in such cases. This is detention without trial.

The arrests and convictions of Mr. Adams and Mr. McGeough were contrary to an international agreement between the Irish and British Governments, that being, Weston Park Agreement. I am amazed that this has not been mentioned on the Sinn Féin motion’s “To Do” list.

Serious abuses have occurred in the case of Mr. Brendan McConville and Mr. John Paul Wootton. It was due to be started in the appeal court before the prosecution stated that it had further evidence. It now appears that the prosecution was collecting intelligence on discussions held between another witness who would confound the prosecution’s evidence and his solicitor. Matters have become so serious that an application has been made to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal to ask the Criminal Cases Review Commission to direct the police investigation, something that is possible in Northern Ireland.

Maureen O’Sullivan

I am a member of the foreign affairs committee. When we meet people from conflict areas, they take great heart from the Northern peace process. After generations of bloodshed, bitterness and deep division, peace was achieved. No one wants to see it undermined, but that is what is happening. Lasting peace cannot be achieved without justice, something that is being undermined in the North. I have raised the issue of prisoners at Maghaberry prison in Priority Questions and Topical Issues. With a group of Deputies, I visited the prisoners several times. Their human rights are being abused. I am not referring to their political views. How could a dirty protest continue for 18 months without anyone paying the prisoners a blind bit of notice? We have been told that the agreement is not being implemented in the prison.

Regarding Ms Marian Price, how could a royal prerogative of mercy that received significant coverage when given be lost so suddenly? She is the only female being held in isolation in a male jail. Her medical treatment leaves much to be desired. These are abuses of her human rights. Her hearing with the Parole Commissioners is repeatedly postponed. She has been held two years on the basis of allegations.

Equally disturbing is the case of Mr. Martin Corey, who has been in jail for three years having had his licence revoked on the basis of allegations. Following a judicial review, the judge opted to release him, but the Secretary of State prevented that from happening. He is long overdue a parole review. It will not be held until July. This is internment without trial. In a democracy, due process should be followed. Level a charge, bring a person to court and let him or her have a say. If there is a conviction, it can be appealed. Otherwise, the person serves time. So-called evidence is being produced, but it will be closed. Barristers and solicitors will effectively be going into the case blindfolded.

The sword of Damocles is hanging over others who are out on licence. We have had the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. We now have the Craigavon Two, men who are being held following a series of allegations, dubious circumstantial evidence and serious issues relating to the PSNI and the covert surveillance of civilians. These injustices are putting the peace process in jeopardy. Do we never learn from history? Are we trying to create more martyrs and fill the ranks of dissident groups?

I believe in people’s democratic right to a fair trial. People in the North are being denied this right. Those being held on grounds of dubious allegations are not the problem. Rather, they would be a part of the solution if the situation was being addressed correctly and fairly.

Mick Wallace

The Good Friday Agreement has been a very positive development, but we should not take things for granted. There is still work to be done if we are to ensure the long-term sustainability of the peace process. Like other Deputies in yesterday’s debate, I want to concentrate on some of the prison issues. Marian Price and Martin Corey were released on licence many years ago but were rearrested in the last few years and are now imprisoned without trial.

It is called internment. A series of abuses have occurred in the case of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, known as the Craigavon Two. Allegations are weak in both cases and there are serious issues relating to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, regarding their convictions and recent failed appeal. Injustices have the potential to put the peace process at risk.

Having visited Maghaberry Prison on three occasions over the last three months with other Members of the Oireachtas and listened to the prisoners’ side of the story, one would have to be concerned. I have no interest in republicanism, but I feel the treatment of political prisoners in Maghaberry is unjust and leaves much to be desired. Prisoners’ rights were promised in 2010 but did not materialise and this led to a dirty protest which lasted 18 months up to last December. Promises were made again following the end of the protest, and again they were not delivered. Measures were to be introduced to bring about a conflict-free environment in the prison. These were to be brought in over three phases in a 12 month period to include movement access, whereby they were promised they would be allowed to have six men on the landing at one time, three in the laundry, three in the phone room and three in the classroom. It turns out the classroom is not available to them. There are no teachers available to them. These prisoners are getting no education and are locked up in their own cells most of the day. It does not make much sense.

What ever happened to the idea that prison was meant to reform the prisoner, make him or her a better person and fit for society? They also have serious grievances about the continued use of strip-searching and the use of isolation in an effort to break particular prisoners. It would make far more sense to have a peaceful atmosphere in the prison rather than one of conflict.

Clare Daly

The issues Deputy Wallace has raised have been silenced by the mainstream media here in the South and we will ignore these issues at our peril. Not too far up the road we have a man who has been in jail for three years who meets all the criteria of the Good Friday Agreement, whose licence was revoked, allegedly for security reasons. He and his legal team have not been informed of these reasons and decisions have been made behind closed doors. The exact same situation faces Martin Corey and the very ill Marian Price, people who have not been presented with the cases against them and who have remained in custody for years. This is not the type of approach that will bring peace in the North. These people are becoming symbols of a continued injustice, and of the fact that internment without trial is still alive and well. There cannot be peace unless justice is done openly and transparently.

I am not a nationalist or a republican. I am an internationalist and am concerned about these issues very much from a human rights point of view, and that is why we have been involved in the cross-party delegations to Maghaberry Prison. It is absolutely reprehensible that the prison authorities and the establishment in the North and Britain have breached agreements and promises regarding prisoners’ conditions which should allow the men to go out onto the landings and socially interact, to get an education, to engage in handicrafts and other issues which deal with rehabilitation. This is not a way forward to bring a conflict-free environment. It is not in the interests of the prisoners or the staff in that prison. Unless we here address these issues we cannot have a lasting peace. I urge the authorities in the South to exert pressure for a desperately needed resolution of these issues.

Thomas Pringle

It is appropriate that 15 years on we should note progress and renew commitment to the Good Friday Agreement in this House. The Government’s amendment stresses that it continues to work towards the observation and implementation of human rights principles. As has been outlined by other Deputies in their contributions, the human rights of prisoners in the North are being abused on a daily basis. Martin Corey, Marian Price and the Craigavon Two are all having their human rights abused. The Government needs to step up to the mark on this and ensure it deals proactively with the British Administration because the Secretary of State is overruling the court system in the Six Counties to ensure these prisoner are kept in custody. This is internment. Holding prisoners without any notice of charge, trial date or attempt to bring them to trial is an abuse of human rights. This Government needs to ensure this is addressed and to deal with it very proactively.

The purpose of the Good Friday Agreement was to remove the circumstances that caused the conflict in the first place, but the British Government is leaving the potential for martyrs and undermining people’s confidence in the justice system. The justice system has to be an integral part of any peace process and the workings of the Good Friday Agreement.

‘UNION MEMBERS DEEPLY UNHAPPY’ AT PRICE MOTION

‘This type of motion can only cause division and is the last thing Nipsa needs – Ross Hussey.

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A MOTION calling for the release of prominent republican Marian Price due to come before the Nipsa conference has been criticised by the UUP. West Tyrone MLA and policing board member Ross Hussey said he had been contacted by Nipsa members who were “deeply unhappy” at the motion.

Mr Hussey described it as a “deeply regrettable situation” which could “cause decision”. “I have been contacted by a number of Nipsa members who are deeply unhappy at Motion No 13 in the conference handbook which states ‘Conference demands the immediate release of Marian Price’. “The motion goes on to call for the Nipsa general council ‘to campaign for the immediate release of Marian Price on humanitarian grounds’. “This is deeply regrettable situation. Nipsa is a highly respected trade union which draws its members from right across the province and from all sections of our society. “This type of motion can only cause division and is the last thing which Nipsa needs.” Then secretary of state Owen Paterson revoked her life sentence licence at Easter 2011 after Price was charged over a dissident republican rally in Derry. She is also facing seperate charges of providing a mobile phone for a terrorist purpose in March 2009 shortly before two soldiers were shot dead at Massereene barracks. The 58-year-old has been receiving treatment for depression, arthritis and lung problems, while kept in hospital under armed guard.

With many thanks to : Maeve Connolly, Irish News.

This letter also appeared in the Irish News today Friday May 17 2013.

Two years incarceration and still no justice for Marian.

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The long, drawn.out process in recent times still has not revealed an outcome. Fifteen years on from signing of the British agreement the treatment of Marian Price and others exposes that the injustice suffered at the hands of the British establishment hasn’t gone away. The analysis of the Irish people throughout our history that there is no British justice in Ireland is epitomised again with this deliberate maltreatment. Marian Price should be released immediately on humanitarian grounds due tonton the state of her health but she should also be released as a right because the spurious charges against her are not proven and innocent until proven guilty has gone out the door. Marian Price is serving a sentence of inhumane treatment for the past two years and yet is not sentenced to a single day in jail. Where is the justice ?

With many thanks to : Francis Mackey, Omagh, Co Tyrone.

SMASH INTERNMENT FREE MARIAN PRICE

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Paul Mckee

2 years ago today, Marian Price was taken by the RUC on spurious charges, and immediately put into solitary confinement in MagHaberry gaol.. Her health declined and when she made bail, the British government stepped in and played their trump card of Interning her having first made sure evidence was destroyed. 2 years and still no justice, people through out the world are still demanding answers. FREE MARIAN PRICE —942193_513955425319044_363748265_n