Belfast Telegraph

Dissident republican Marian Price freed after year spent in hospital

By Suzanne Breen

Dissident republican Marian Price is back at home with her family in west Belfast after more than two years' imprisonment.

Following a decision by the Parole Commission, the 58-year-old mother-of-two was last night released from custody in Belfast City Hospital, where she has spent the past year seriously ill.

Her family said that while they were delighted she had been freed, they said she never should have been jailed in the first place.

Price's husband Jerry McGlinchey said: "I'm elated Marian is home but I am very angry that I lost my wife for two years.

"Marian's physical and mental health has deteriorated hugely since she was jailed. She will require extensive medical care over coming months and years."

Ms Price, who had a high political profile before her imprisonment, is banned from talking to the Press as part of the conditions of her release.

The veteran republican, who served seven years in jail in the 1970s for bombing London, was charged with holding a statement for a masked Real IRA man at an Easter Rising commemoration in Derry in 2011.

A court granted her bail on that offence but the then Secretary of State Owen Paterson revoked her licence.

Her lawyers claimed he had no right to do so as she had been granted a royal pardon when freed from jail in 1980.

The Government said this pardon had been lost.

Ms Price's solicitor, Kevin Winters, said the decision to free Price was "long overdue".

He added: "The ordeal Marian Price has been through raises serious questions about what was a classic example of the Executive trumping due process.

"It was the modern day equivalent of internment." Price's release was welcomed by nationalist politicians on both sides of the border.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (below) said: "Marian was held without due process and has been very ill for most of this time.

"She posed no threat and her continued detention undermined the justice system and the political process."

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey: "This was never a case about politics. It had human rights at its centre."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also welcomed the Parole Commission decision.

But the DUP's Paul Givan described it as "bizarre".

Mr Givan said: "Those who have rallied to Marian Price's case should understand that pandering to dissident republicans sends a mixed message to people across the province."

PROFILE

Marian Price is the former national secretary of the dissident republican political group the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. With her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly – now a senior Sinn Fein politician – she was part of an IRA unit which bombed the Old Bailey and Whitehall in London in 1973. Around 200 people were injured and one man died of a heart attack. Price embarked on a hunger strike in Brixton Prison demanding a transfer to Armagh jail. In 1994, she said Sinn Fein had "betrayed republicanism".

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