Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Marian Price case proves the system works

The detention of veteran republican Marian Price for the past two years resulted in an uproar from her supporters. She was first sent back to prison by the then Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, who revoked her licence because he viewed the threat she posed as having significantly increased.

She later was charged with supplying a mobile phone used during the killing of two soldiers at Massereene army base near Antrim and also aiding and abetting a meeting in support of an illegal organisation.

Leaving aside all the sound and fury surrounding this case, there is no evidence to support claims that due process was not followed every step of the way. There is a system in place for dealing with people who are on licence and that system has worked.

It is illogical to claim that the system failed, when the Parole Commissioners have just released Ms Price on licence. They said they were taking into account her current circumstances.

In some ways the Parole Commissioners face the same antagonism as the Parades Commission. If decisions do not go the way that some people want, then the body is deemed to be flawed at the very least. But such organisations have to go on the evidence presented to them and make a judgment taking into account likely outcomes.

The process and the judgment may not always find favour, but if honestly and fairly reached, should be accepted.

Just as Ms Price's supporters say she should never have been kept in custody, there are others who say she should not have been released.

But due process is still being observed. She is on bail and still faces the charges laid against her.

This was not a get out of jail free card and, quite rightly, eventually a court will decide if the charges have any substance or not.

That is how the system works and there are sufficient checks and balances within it to ensure that people are treated lawfully and in observance of their rights.

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