Belfast Telegraph

I can convene Marian Price McGlinchey court hearing in hospital, says judge

A district judge said he had the power to convene a preliminary inquiry court hearing involving republican Marian McGlinchey, formerly Marian Price, in the hospital where she's being treated.

Yesterday, miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon spoke out in support of her.

Ms McGlinchey has been in custody since her arrest in May 2011 after then-Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson revoked her prison release licence.

Yesterday Judge Barney McElholm said that provided that "private, appropriate, secure and suitable accommodation" could be made available by the hospital authorities, such a hearing could go ahead.

Ms McGlinchey, who has been charged with addressing a meeting held to support the IRA, has been in deteriorating mental and physical health since her arrest.

Her solicitor Peter Corrigan told Mr McElholm that it would be "wrong to hold a preliminary inquiry hearing in a pseudo court situation in hospital" and he said the charge which his client denied should be dropped.

"The deterioration in her physical and mental health has been exacerbated by the prosecution of the charge against her," he said.

But a prosecution lawyer told the court that if "all the appropriate measures" in relation to transportation and security were in place, there was no reason why the hearing could not proceed.

He adjourned his decision on whether or not the hospital hearing would go ahead, but would give it "as soon as possible".

Mr McElholm said it was not unusual for court hearings to take place in hospital. He said: "I want the doctors to be advised about the nuts, bolts and practicalities of what such a hearing would be. I want doctors to understand she couldn’t give evidence nor could she be cross-examined.

"I want the doctors to be advised of the exact type of hearing and for them to come to a conclusion about her ability to take part from a medical viewpoint."

Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon, who spent years in jail after being falsely convicted of a bombing in England was in court for the hearing.

He said keeping her in prison was an abuse of process.

Outside court he said: "To think that a process of law is being usurped by politicians in order to hold a woman, without her lawyers being able to see the accusations against her, is an abuse of justice, it is a human rights issue.

"If there is evidence to say someone has committed a crime it should be placed before the court, their lawyer should have access to it and the accusations should be made open and public.

"Justice has to be fair, open and transparent and that it is why I am here. It is not fair, it is not open and it is certainly not transparent."

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