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Marian Price: Provo who said No to Northern Ireland peace process

It was another one of those unannounced visits The republican Marian Price would not have been expecting the police at her door early yesterday.

She was arrested in west Belfast at around eight -- on a cold November morning.

At one time Price would have been at the heart of the IRA organisation, but she is one of those republicans who said no.

She said no to the Adams and McGuinness peace strategy and to all that has grown out of that, including decommissioning and the politics of Stormont.

In her eyes and in her words that strategy has been built on the stuff of treason and treachery.

And in how people are labelled she is now described as a dissident.

It is a description that comes with saying No.

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Marian Price’s roots in the IRA go back to the 1970s.

She was one of those convicted in connection with two bombs in London in 1973 including one outside the Old Bailey.

Another of those jailed was Gerry Kelly. As the peace process has developed he and Price have taken very different paths.

Kelly, a jail escaper and believed at one time to have been part of the IRA Army Council, is now recognised alongside Adams and McGuinness as the public face of the republican leadership.

They have been the principal negotiators in the process that developed beyond the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement.

Marian Price has been one of the thorns in the side of that strategy — describing it as a selling out of all republican principles.

Gerry Kelly and Marian Price were once on the same side — but not any more. The peace has put them in different places, against each other and travelling in opposite directions.

In the 1970s when the British began secret back channel contacts with the republican leadership, one of the issues being discussed was the transfer of prisoners from jails in England to Ireland.

It was about making it easier for relatives to visit them, and it was seen as one way for the British to demonstrate seriousness.

Marian Price was one of those transferred back.

Many years later that back channel was revealed, just months before the IRA ceasefire in 1994.

The timing of revelations of British contacts with the republican leadership could not have been worse — not long after the horror of the Warrington and Shankill bombs.

But the process survived the shock and since then the peace has slowly developed.

It is that process — and the republican initiatives within it — that prompted Marian Price to take another direction.

In her eyes the unarmed strategy that is the work of Adams, McGuinness, Kelly and others in that leadership is a sell-out by another name.

She is in a republican minority that thinks that way — but that hasn’t stopped her thinking it and saying it.


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