SDLP calls for Marian Price release
The ongoing detention of Old Bailey bomber Marian Price since her early release licence was revoked is being used as a recruitment tool by dissident republicans, the Assembly has been warned.
The republican's continued imprisonment in solitary confinement in the all-male high security jail at Maghaberry, Co Antrim, is helping militants argue that the British government can override the local justice system at will, a controversial SDLP motion claimed.
But unionists reacted angrily to the call for the convicted bomber to be set free and poured scorn on SDLP claims that her health was in jeopardy, noting that she was released on compassionate grounds in 1980 because she was apparently at "death's door".
Price was granted bail in a Londonderry court last May after being charged with supporting an illegal organisation - but she was not released because Secretary of State Owen Paterson made a separate decision to revoke her early release licence.
The 57-year-old former IRA hunger striker, who along with her sister Dolours was jailed in 1973 for her role in a republican bombing campaign in London, was accused of holding a speech for a masked man at a dissident rally on Easter Sunday.
The prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a political group linked to the Real IRA, has since been charged in connection with providing a phone to the gang who gunned down two British soldiers outside Massereene barracks in Antrim in 2009.
SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said the decision to revoke her licence was shrouded in secrecy and claimed MI5 involvement.
"Those of us in elected office must do everything within our power to prevent dissidents from succeeding," he said.
"Unfortunately however the actions of the secretary of state have unintentionally provided a recruiting tool for those individuals who are so intent on reigniting violence."
He added: "These groups have been able to stoke a sense of injustice in the community, to use it for political gain and to seek to mobilise young people in their actions against the democratic will of the people."