Righting a Grave Injustice

Tonight The Pensive Quill carries a letter written by guest writer Nuala Perry. It originally appeared in edited form in the Irish News on 3/05/20112.

In recent times I have read quite a bit about Coiste na n-Iarchimi  proposals to have the British Government indicted for the suffering and carnage caused to many Irish people and their families during internment.

Last year on the fortieth anniversary of internment a representative of this group claimed. ‘We intend to force the British Government to acknowledge the injustice of internment and the effects that imprisonment without trial had on individuals concerned and the community as a whole.’

If this group are truly sincere about righting such a grave injustice, why then, do they remain so muted when it comes to a more recent British injustice, the internment of Marian Price?

Sadly it is not only these groups which appear to be stifled on this issue. Unbelievably, unexplainably and quite shamefully there is a serious dearth in the number of former ex-prisoners and ex-internees adding their voices or their feet to the ongoing campaign for Marian’s release.

Maybe expectations of justice are somewhat misplaced against the contrived tapestry of unrelenting apology and accommodation. Or maybe justice is destined to enjoy the same precarious status as the war, reframed or reinvented in keeping with and depending on a particular audience or context.


  1. Excellent Nuala how sad it is to see that Marian has been interned for almost a year and yet so very few who stood up and opposed this unjust and draconian of practices have remained almost silent, politics aside this is now more a humanitarian issue around a single woman prisoner locked up in solitary confinement,who is by all accounts very ill and no threat to anyone, republicans know from many generations how this form of imprisonment is a form of torture,and how it can affect a persons mental health, therefore can we imagine how hard it must be for Marian as a single ,isolated woman prisoner,all people who claim to be democrats, individuals,trade unionists, and indeed ex pows need to get involved in righting this wrong perpetrated by an unelected individual i.e sos Patterson,there will be a march on the 27th May from Beechmount to the Busybee in Andersonstown on behalf of Marian ,wouldnt it be great for all of us to leave politics aside and stand up once again in opposition to internment,be there a chairde...

  2. Nuala maybe Coiste na n-Iarchimi are quiet on the interment of Marian Price is becasue Raymond McCartney is the chairman. And he is towing 'the party' line.

    Then again maybe I'm wrong.

  3. Frankie very true,but if coiste is unwilling or unable to assist in the campaign to have Marian released through party disipline,then those who work in coiste are as usefull as tits on a bull they should if they hold any ideals walk away,qsf are where they are today through prison issues,..oh yeah and agents of influence and touts..

  4. The people went unto the streets in there thousands to protest about internment, also about the hunger strikers, all arranged by Adams and Co, Now the same company are ignoring Internment, WHY?, because they got what they planned to get well before the Hunger Strikes began. But let us all not forget, Marian was once our friend and comrade, and to me, she still is to this very day, and "until the day I die", sadly thats not to far away as far as Im concerned. The masses of the people are afraid to speak out, they are afraid as to what sf "SECURITY" would say to them, Yes, believe you me, that "SECURITY" is still around for there protection. If everyone started calling sf traitors, posting leaflets, having meetings to discuss why sf let men die on hunger strike, when they new a deal was on the table, we all know why they rejected the deal, it didn't fit into there agenda, it was to early for a deal, they were stil building there strategy to get into government with the brits. Im sure if Marion realised all this, she would sure as hell open a full can of beans, and, let them spill. sf mla's and your man himself in Dail Eireann, mr liar himself ,Barman Adams, we all know he was in the RA, MI5/6/RUC/PSNI knows he was in the RA, So, Why didnt the arrest him, because he is protected, always keep one up the spout for a tout, and, i dont give two hoots what anyone thinks of this, He was the biggest tout, and, its about time all ex prisoners who are not on the JOBS FOR THE BOYS, wake up, you are not that blind, remember this, YOU COULD BE NEXT, asking for help because you have been INTERNED.

    Thank you for that piece, inspiring to know that the CROPPIES will not lie down.

    You are correct, Mc Cartney is towing the party line.

  5. itsjustmacke

    but lambasting SF then asking for them to step up to the plate hardly effective. They are insulated from reality steaming on with electoral self interest.

    in fact Adams was so insulated..by the 'RA, his own thick skin and the Brits he was untouchable. Bin Laden was the most sought person on earth, Adams was the most protected and only he knew it.

    walkin up+down Andytown road only uses up she leather too. What are ex prisoners supposed to do, really?

    The show is over we were judas'd. But everyone trying to horse on. If there was anything effective i'm sure people would support it.

  6. Frankie,
    Coiste as a group is supposedly committed to tackling injustice against ex-prisoners.
    Last year they engaged in a few publicity stunts in relation to internment, one of them being serving Owen Patterson with a legal writ.
    Yet that very same group and the very same individuals remain mute when it comes to Marian.
    I know lately Raymond Mc Cartney approached a family of a remand prisoner and promised assistance.
    Family and friends contacted Mc Cartney several times but to no avail, he never took or answered one of their calls.

  7. the page advert in newspaper by ex prisoners was the best idea i heard...that would seriously expose SF if enough high profile people signed it. imo.

  8. Good letter Nuala. It needs pointed out relentlessly. It is really good to see how many of her old comrades have not hit the delete button.

  9. well said, Nuala. Coiste have been very subdued during the past two years of prison protest. Although it claims to represent all former prisoner without exception, we know who it supports and who it chooses to ignore. Of course, it will point to a few public statements vis-a-vis human rights and decent standards as evidence of its pro active stance on prisoners. Such are but mere platitudes; trite words with little or no substance.

    I was very annoyed by Sinn Fein's attempt to claim credit when Ford announced recently that he was piloting new technology with a view to replacing strip searching. Talk about band wagon jumpers! The victory for this belongs to the men on protest and their families. Sinn Fein will not win a single vote for its handling of the jail crisis.

  10. Though I would Pop this Poem in, Im sure everyone on PQ has gone through this.

    The Spirit of Freedom in 10 Brave Men, Long Kesh 1981.

    In the Concrete Dungeons of Long Kesh,
    That Tyrant called Thatcher she tried her best,
    To break Freedoms Struggle, through Criminalisation,
    Irelands Bravest Sons they were put to the test.

    On the Blanket for years,
    They were Forcibly Stripped and Beat,
    While Loved Ones at home, in silence would weep,
    Those Dirty Cells were the Blankets Men’s only retreat.

    Degradation – happened every single day,
    In Mirror Searches and wing shifts,
    It was Torture and Humiliation in every way,
    The only way out was – in dreams to drift!

    But the Bang of a door and the Scream of a Screw,
    Reality was back, in the shape of a shoe!
    They were dragged by the hair - out of the cell,
    “You’re for a wash to get rid of that smell!”

    How much of this can one man take?
    For now in a bath of blood - you would wake,
    Hair cut short and body scrubbed to the bone,
    All done by force, while being on your own.

    So Bobby, Frank and Ray, with Patsy and Joe,
    They made a stand – where only the Brave dare to go!
    With Martin, Kevin and Kieran, and Thomas and Mickey,
    These Men were no Criminals – and to the World this did show.

    Along with their Comrades they stood up for the Cause,
    And one by one on Hunger Strike they died,
    While Ireland mourned for their lose,
    All they wanted was the Basic 5 Demands.

    I was just 5 when this all took place,
    The Black Flags, the riots, the protests, the Graves,
    I remember the Sadness on my parents face,
    The feeling inside me – I just couldn’t explain!

    30 Years on as I remember those 10 Brave Men,
    In Maigh g Caibre Goal, in this stink and smell,
    We are struggling to bring Controlled Movement,
    And Degrading Strip-Searches to an end

    I know in my heart that the Spirit is here,
    The Spirit of Freedom, So Powerful and True,
    Its out on the Landings, In the Halls and Stairs,
    We won’t be defeated because its in Me and You.

    This Poem is Dedicated to the 10 Brave Men who gave the Ultimate Sacrifice in the Gaol Struggle in 1981.
    It is Dedicated to all the Blanket Men and to the Women of Armagh Gaol – who all suffered during those gruelling years of Prison Struggle. Also not forgetting the other Hunger Strikers who were prepared to die, and the families of all POWs all during the years of their loved ones being incarcerated in British Gaols and for those incarcerated in other Gaols all over the World.

    You all are, and always will be an Inspiration, to us now – who are in another Gaol Struggle. Tiocfaidh ar Lá.

    By Damien McLaughlin, Republican prisoner, Maigh g Caibre Gaol, 16th August 2011.

    Maybe this will awaken those numbed by the 1998 sell out.

  11. Coiste is a Sinn Fein animal controlled and run by senior party members.

    Alec's recent account of harassment is also a case in point. It should be objecting to any harassment of ex prisoners. Alec does point out that it is operationally prejudiced about which ex-prisoners it will support.

    Of those prisoners it does support I am aware that it is deliberately leading them on and misinforming them in a way that will ultimately have very negative impact upon those ex-prisoners lives.

    On the 9th May just gone Queen Eliza included in her speech proposals for new laws to extend Intelligence Agencies use of secret evidence and witnesses to cover civil actions against the state and security force actions. This will feature much in NI new future for a great many legacy cases.


  12. Larry,

    What are ex -prisoners supposed to do, really?

    Whatever their conscience allows. Having set through the blanket it would feel wholly wrong for me to wash my hands of this and think ‘not my problem.’ At the very least ex prisoners can show their moral support and speak out so that their silence on the matter is not recruited to the anti prisoner cause. That still leaves the problems that you point out but that is another matter.


    ‘I know lately Raymond Mc Cartney approached a family of a remand prisoner and promised assistance. Family and friends contacted Mc Cartney several times but to no avail, he never took or answered one of their calls.’

    The proof of the pudding ... as they say.

  13. I for one think that burning shoe leather is a small price to pay to highlight the unfair, unjust internment of a 57 year old ill woman, and by the turnout on the Whiterock today at the unveiling of a mural in honour of Marian,lots more people are starting to get the message..

  14. Mackers,
    People are absolutely fixated on Marian Price's refusal to meet Mc Cartney and Jennifer.
    Yet this family had total faith that he would help them and he totally ignored them.
    My friend who knows him quite well is of the opinion his change of heart came from much higher up?

  15. Alec,

    A senior figure in Coiste asked for Tommy Gorman to be sacked from his job because he was critical of the peace process. The irony was that Tommy is a former prisoner and the Coiste person is not. As Jim McAllister once said of SF it would stand in front of a roundabout and claim credit for the floral arrangement on it. I hardly need to tell you – we have discussed it so often – not to be shocked at how warped republicanism can become once it is hit by the Stick virus. That virus was never something specific to Goulding et al. Republicanism is always susceptible to it and will succumb to it unless inoculated.

  16. Nuala,

    I can understand why Marian would not meet with Jennifer or Raymond.

    I remember first arriving in Long Kesh in 1974 and on the drive to our cage we could see all these cages with banners on them ‘Fitt Cage’, ‘Hume Cage’, ‘Devlin Cage’ and so on. So Marian is merely following in the republican tradition of not meeting with these people. Paddy Devlin was a former republican prisoner and he was treated the same. It happens all the time when erstwhile republicans buy into the partition scheme.

    Whether it is a good idea or not for Marian to hold out and not meet them is another matter. But if Raymond is ignoring pleas from relatives then she will feel there is nothing to be served other than allowing SF to claim it is actively doing something on prisoner issues. I think Raymond’s opinion is shaped from on high. Left to his own devices I think he would help out.