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Interned in the Occupied North of Ireland

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Sunday August 21, 2011 20:11author by Seán Ó Murchú - Republican Sinn Féin Report this post to the editors

A British cabinet minister has appointed a secret commission with the power to revoke the parole of political prisoners just for being accused.

AFTER 40 years, internment without charge or trial has returned to the occupied North of Ireland.

In August 1971, the British army picked up and imprisoned 342 men who were believed, often erroneously, to be key members of the Irish Republican Army. They were never charged with any crime, but a committee that met in secret and gave no reason for its decisions could only release them.

Today, it is former political prisoners who are being interned. A British cabinet minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is revoking their “licenses”. They aren't charged with any crime, and he has given no reason for ordering them back to prison except that they're a "security risk" or a "danger to society."

A commission appointed by the same minister can review their cases. The prisoner can present evidence, but this is essentially meaningless since they have never been told why they're in prison in the first place. The commission can meet in secret. The only reason they need to give for refusing to release a prisoner is that he or she is a "danger to society."

Brendan Lillis who has only now being released was according to the commission a "danger to society." Lillis, whose license was revoked in 2009, suffers from a bone disease that has fused his spine. He hasn't been able to get out of bed in nearly two years and will probably never walk again.

Another political prisoner, Martin Corey, has no idea why he is back in prison. He was imprisoned for IRA activity in December 1973 when he was 19 years old. He was released in June 1992, returned home, established a business and formed an ongoing relationship. He became a highly respected member of his local community in Lurgan, County Aramgh.

In the early hours of April 16, 2010, almost 18 years after his original release, the police appeared at Martin Corey's door and took him away to prison. He wasn't charged with any crime and wasn't told what, if anything, he was supposed to have done. He was simply informed that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland had revoked his license because he was a "security risk."

More than a year later, Martin Corey is still interned. He was recently told that he’d be in prison for at least another year because his application for release has been denied, and he can't reapply until next year.

Corey is a member of Republican Sinn Fein, a legal political party throughout Ireland. It is opposed to the present power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland because it believes the administration perpetuates British rule. This can be used to justify Martin Corey's internment because he is a "dissident republican" and "a threat" to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Marian Price, the only woman political prisoner in Northern Ireland, was interned in May. She had appeared in court on a charge of "encouraging support for an illegal organization." The judge granted her bail, but the police detained her before she could even leave the courthouse.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland revoked her license from a conviction dating back to 1973. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the minister said that she posed a threat that had "significantly increased" in recent times. Price is a leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

She is in solitary confinement in an otherwise all-male prison. There are serious concerns about her health. Imprisoned in Britain in 1973, Price went on hunger strike and was force-fed more than 200 times. After she was returned to the North of Ireland, Price developed severe anorexia nervosa and was freed by the British government because they were afraid she was about to die. Today, she is suffering from crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

There are probably hundreds of former political prisoners in occupied North of Ireland who have been released on license. Any one of them could be interned indefinitely at any time for any reason.

In addition on the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikes we have Republican POW’s incarcerated in Maghaberry Prison on dirty protest over the failure yet again of the British Government to implement an agreed upon document to stop strip searches.

The document in question outlines the way to resolve the issue, and I quote from the report: 'the installation of two BOSS chair systems would remove the core area of contention while establishing the highest possible level of security. It would guarantee a more humane search regime and reduce the stresses that arise around full body searches under current procedures.’ The politicians have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where now the situation within the jail is critical. The POWs are on 24-hour lock-up; they are not allowed visits, showers, and education or yard time. They are existing (one could hardly call it living) in their tiny cells with excrement smeared on the walls. Once again, human rights don’t apply to ‘these’ people.

Ending internment and getting Political Status re-instated won't be easy or quick. It will only be won by a movement that brings together everyone who is willing to support political prisoners, whether or not they agree with them politically.

Republican Sinn Féin - Munster now calls for a campaign for the decent treatment of Republican prisoners, a recognition of their human rights and support for the release of those prisoners now interred. People right across the political spectrum should come together to mount a major campaign on behalf of the prisoners.

P.R.O. Sinn Féin Poblachtach

author by independent republicanpublication date Mon Aug 22, 2011 00:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fair play to  rsf for highlighting this. i agree about the need for everone to come together

to campaign for the end of the current phase of internment by remand/selcetive internment.

this is an issue that effect us all. where are all the humanitarians? the penal reform trust?

amnesty international? this campaign needs to embrace other sections of political life,it needs to

encompass people who aren't even republican.

but i firmly believe untill the prisoners themselves come together and form a untied body and

issue a collective statement untill there is unity between the various shades of republicans

within maghaberry there wont be unity on the outside. we need to take stock of reality.

also any campaign must not forget people like kieron doran(extradited to france) and michael

campbell(held captive in lithuania)

we must not end up having a selective must be about all republican prisoners.

certain groups need to take the finger out and stop pretending to be fighting a 'war' (issuing

statements about military capabilities because of an ability to plant a bomb in UCC car park

and statements about 'widening the theatre of operations' is nothing but an embarassment

when we can all see there is no war going on)and give

up the pretense of fighting drug dealers,these are distractions and impediments to building

support and solidarity for interned and imprisoned republican pows.

author by Gary Barlowepublication date Wed Aug 24, 2011 13:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Once again we get more of the same rethoric from republican groupings/supporters. now we have statements such as.

Wwhere are all the humanitarians? the penal reform trust?

amnesty international? this campaign needs to embrace other sections of political life,it needs to

encompass people who aren't even republican."

Can republican supporters really call for these groups to act when they themselves ignored for many years these very same groups when they condemned republican and indeed all types of terrorism in the NOrth no matter where it came from.

One of the above commentators states that there is NO war yet they describe these prisoners as POW's, how is that possible, how can a person be classed as a POW when there is in the words of one of their supporters NO war.

Just a small observation.

author by Dougalpublication date Thu Aug 25, 2011 07:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Can republican supporters really call for these groups to act when they themselves ignored for many years these very same groups when they condemned republican and indeed all types of terrorism in the NOrth no matter where it came from."

of course they can. A human rights violation is a human rights violation regardless

"One of the above commentators states that there is NO war yet they describe these prisoners as POW's, how is that possible, how can a person be classed as a POW when there is in the words of one of their supporters NO war".

Gary, I think you are being deliberately stupid here. (Perhaps due to over exposure to soaps??)
Haven't you ever heard of the terms "past" and "present"??

It WAS a war in the PAST. It ISN'T a war in the PRESENT.

Reminds me of that episode of father ted where dougal was being taught perspective.

author by Gary Barlowpublication date Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Yes I understand the concept of past and present fully, but obviously the supporters of these prisoners have not fully grasped it.

And once again we have posters on this site responding to a person who does not support their point of view with inane insults "deliberatley stupid" and "overexposure to soaps", and a Father Ted episode. I presume by your comment regarding the "SOAPS" you connect it with Coronation Street or something like that (obviously you watch them) well you are wrong in your assumption. The Gary Barlow I refer to has nothing to do with soaps, he was murdered on 5 March 1973.

You also make a reference to a father Ted show and Dougal being taught perspective; strange that you should adopt the Dougal name, are you trying in some way to be ironic, or are you your self in need of instruction on perspective

Ok lets accept that the War is in the past, but this still does not allow these prisoners to claim the appelation of P.O.W., a right that their organisations never gave to anyone. Nor have they ever to my knowledge signed up to the Geneva Convention. So their entitlement to P.O.W. status is dubious to say the least.

If human rights are being denied then get it sorted, but dont claim something "P.O.W. status" that you are NOT entitled to in order to gain some kind of political badge of honour.

author by Realist.publication date Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Good Friday Agreement, while being far from perfect, has been a notable achievement. To some it perpetuates British rule and domination to others it is the unacceptable first step to a United Ireland. However, it should be seen as a first step to a "normal' society and those who oppose it are fundamentally undemocratic, do not have a mandate and threaten to return us to the bad old days.
As much as I would like to reverse the history of the last 100 years, I cannot. We must adapt and look towards a more normal way of dealing with difference. As one who ,lost a family member in 'the troubles' I think the GFA is progress but there is a long way to go.
Why the zeal to be part of the corruption that is the 26 counties? A romantic, emotional attachment to a past that never existed. Myths are very powerful things.
To many flags and football jerseys. A class analysis is needed.

author by An Draighneán Donnpublication date Tue Aug 30, 2011 06:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anyone capable of a class analysis would realize that a scam the makes two reactionary parties like the DUP and PSF a permanent regime, reduces all politics to a sectarian headcount, and leaves class politics completely outside the pale of thought, would not support the GFA in any way.

author by An DDpublication date Tue Aug 30, 2011 06:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I find it sad that the most common type of Irish Leftie is really a Social Democratic Liberal. They are more than willing to accept and support the occupation of Ireland and the introduction of internment - just as long as they remain safe to hire their Polish childminder at minimum wage - or less - and enjoy their well paid civil service job. The Labour Party, the SP and the SWP would be typical examples of these Latté Liberals posing as Socialists.

author by Redundant Republicanpublication date Wed Aug 31, 2011 18:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Republicans beware, the shinners would not be shy about interning republicans. They have the ability to discuss, to reflect, to compromise and to understand every political and religious group on this island except republicans. Republicans remind them of what they once believed and fought for. They would encourage and use internment against republicans.

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