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rights, freedoms and repression |
Wednesday September 26, 2012 18:57 by Diarmuid Breatnach
Around a thousand marched on Saturday in Dublin on the 16th to demand the freeing of Marian Price, currently 18 months in in solitary confinement in British custody in the Six Counties. Tensions were high due to the recent Gardaí raids on republicans in parts of Dublin and Louth, including the arrests of the mother and two brother of a republican. In addition a heavy Garda presence at the start of the march, along with their taking names and addressses of some marchers, boded ill for the event. However, it passed peacefully.
The marchers, led by the banner of the Dublin Free Marian Price Commitee, started from the Garden of Remembrance and as the lead banner and the Pride of Erin flute band from Portadown stepped on to O’Connell Bridge, the end of the march was just setting foot on to the far end of O’Connell Street.
Section of the march at the beginning, Frederick St. and Parnell Square.
Turning as they crossed the Bridge, the marchers came back up O’Connell Street to the GPO where speakers Gerry McGlinchey (Marian Price’s husband), Cnclr. Cieran Perry, Thomas Pringle TD and Pauline Mellon addressed the crowd. All speakers, including the chairperson Íta Ní Chionnaigh highlighted the injustice of the fifty-eight year-old Republican’s continued imprisonment without charge, calling it “internment”, calling attention also to her ill-health and mistreatment and the need for her immediate release. All also demanded the Irish Government make representations to the British government to seek Price’s release.
Marian Price is currently being held without any charge whatsoever. She was imprisoned by Owen Patterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, claiming he revoked her release on licence under the Good Friday Agreement, as she constituted “a danger to the public”. He has not produced any evidence of this and his decision is not open to appeal. Marian Price’s legal team insist that she was not freed on licence but rather on a Royal Pardon – at the time she was also extremely ill, having been a Republican prisoner for many years in Britain and in Ireland and having endured 200 days on hunger-strike (with her sister Dolours) and having been force-fed for 167 of them.
Speakers also referred to some other specific prisoners being held in Maghaberry such as Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough and to the conditions of the republican prisoners in general there (most have been on “dirty protest” for many months in protest at their continuing strip-searching which includes prison guards inserting fingers in their mouths and anuses).
Pauline Mellon, confessing somewhat ashamedly that she had voted for the Good Friday Agreement, stated that she now felt she had been mistaken, as the GFA had resolved nothing and seemed to be about the normalisation of British occupation and resultant injustice. All the speakers strongly emphasised that in their view, peace would be impossible without first having justice.
After the speakers, Pól Mac Adam took the stage to sing and play a song of his own composition in protest at the imprisonment of political prisoners in Ireland and around the world. Mac Adam’s own brother Gary was arrested by armed Six Counties police some months ago and imprisoned after being charged with a crime alleged to have been committed in 1986.
The Dublin march was notable not only for the absence of shouted slogans along its entire length (except for “Free Marion Price!” at the GPO) but also for the diversity of support. Also notable was the absence of party banners or placards, although representation was present not only from across much of the Republican movement (both sides of the Good Friday Agreement divide) but also from the Workers’ Solidarity Movement (anarchist), Socialist Workers’ Party (trotskyist). Many independent political activists of republican, socialist and anarchist background also attended. It was also notable for the filming of the proceedings by Garda Special Branch and by intimidatory collection of names and addresses by police officers at the rallying point at the start of the march.
The march was attended by TDs Thomas Pringle (Independent), Dessie Ellis (Sinn Féin) and Clare Daly (formerly Socialist Party, now Independent) as well as by a number of local authority councillors from various parties and independents, from both sides of the Border. Thirty TDs and Senators in the Dáil have signed a petition for Price’s release.
A spokesperson for the Dublin Committee of the Free Marian Price Campaign, which had organised the march and rally said: “People need to get involved in this campaign and add their voices to the call to have Marian Price freed. They don’t have to support her politics but on civil and human rights alone she must be freed.”
Trade Union TV video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM8jW71esyk
JP Anderson video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3W4pvtoC0M
WSM video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_5...zHOtE
Orlaithog slideshow photos with music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRA3PwRWjg8
Thomas Pringle TD addressing the rally at the GPO.