Belfast Telegraph

Old Bailey bomber Marian Price moved to women's prison amid health fear

By Steven McCaffery

Prominent republican Marian Price has been moved out of the high security Maghaberry prison over concerns for her health.

The Department of Justice said the decision to transfer her to the women's facility at Hydebank Wood outside Belfast came after discussions with medical experts.

Price has been detained at Maghaberry since last May, when Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson said he was revoking the release licence of the Old Bailey bomber.

News of her transfer came as Mr Paterson denied the accusations of former prison chaplain and human rights campaigner Monsignor Raymond Murray that Price's detention amounts to a form of internment.

The Northern Ireland Office said Price was returned to prison after appearing at a dissident republican rally in Derry and faces a charge in connection with the police investigation into the murders of two soldiers at Massereene army base. Price, also known under her married of Marian McGlinchey, denies the charges.

But the row threatened to escalate after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also criticised her detention and the legal wrangles that have surrounded it.

"That action by Owen Paterson amounted to detention without trial and runs contrary to natural justice," said Mr McGuinness, who added Price was entitled to due process.

"Sinn Fein has raised its concerns on this issue at every opportunity and will continue to press Owen Paterson on it as a matter of urgency," he said.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Office said: "The Secretary of State entirely refutes the allegation that this is internment without trial.

"Due process has been followed at all times: Mrs McGlinchey is aware of the case against her and has an opportunity to challenge it, and submit evidence on her behalf, during the course of the parole hearing.

"Following a recommendation from the independent parole commissioners, the Secretary of State revoked Marian McGlinchey's licence on May 15, 2011.

"In accordance with the provisions of the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2011, the Secretary of State may revoke a licence where it is necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm and to prevent the commission of further offences.

"Those released on licence have an obligation to act within the terms of their release.

"Mrs McGlinchey has been charged with two offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, one of which is in connection with the Massereene murders."

The statement said following the decision to revoke the licence, an independent panel of parole commissioners is now considering the case.

The Department of Justice statement, meanwhile, said the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) had confirmed the decision to move Price to Hydebank Wood.

"The decision was taken on clinical advice from healthcare staff of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, which has responsibility for the healthcare for all prisoners across Northern Ireland," said the department.

"Marian McGlinchey was returned to custody last May on the direction of the Secretary of State.

"At the time, the NIPS took the decision for operational reasons to place her in Maghaberry.

"Over the past nine months, the Prison Service and the Trust have, on a number of occasions, discussed and reviewed Mrs McGlinchey's needs while in custody.

"The decision to relocate her on healthcare advice is part of that review process." Her case has proven to be highly divisive and sparked a debate at the Stormont Assembly, where nationalists and republicans called for her release, while unionists defended the Secretary of State's actions.

Marian Price first rose to prominence after she was jailed for the IRA bombing of the Old Bailey in London in 1973.

The SDLP's Pat Ramsey welcomed the decision to move Price, saying: "This decision, taken on the advice of health professionals, is very welcome and bolsters what we have been saying all along."

He said she was being held in the hospital wing of Hydebank women's prison, but officials declined to comment on the specific arrangements put in place for the republican.

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