The Skinning of Marian Price: My Letter to Irish Newspapers
The continued detention and mistreatment of Marian Price by Owen Paterson and the government of Northern Ireland has slowly but surely raised the ire of Irish-Americans. From across the sea we have watched her long-term solitary confinement (beginning in May, 2011), her granting of bail twice—only to be revoked by Mr. Paterson because of unseen and unknown evidence and her continued deterioration –both physically and mentally—to the point where she is now a resident in a psychiatric facility, has contracted pneumonia and is deteriorating more rapidly.
What, for God’s sake, do Mr. Paterson and his government and quasi-government backers want? If he does not have the necessary human compassion to release Ms. Price, he should at least have the necessary intelligence of an adversarial leader to do so. Does he not understand that the peace process will not be strengthened by these actions? The republican movement, or any liberation movement throughout history, has necessary pillars to sustain it, to retreat to when things go bad. Martyrs and heroes provide one of those pillars.
Maybe Mr. Paterson and his invisible and unnamed government backers sitting behind a veil of anonymity should get a stack of republican ballad cd’s and listen to them. They are not filled with pleas for peace and reconciliation, but rather resistance and the sacrifice of brave and tortured followers. Soon, we will have the “Ballad of Marian Price” and the like pouring from the pens and mouths of admirers. If Mr. Paterson despises Ms. Price, and truly wants her and those nationalists and republicans opposed to the Good Friday Agreement to be marginalized, not embraced; to be discouraged, not encouraged; to be forgotten, not commemorated, then he is doing the opposite of what will bring about these effects.
When I journeyed to Belfast as the co-founder and chairman of the New York H-Block/ Armagh Committee more than 30 years ago —with numerous delegations (including Father Daniel Berrigan, S. J. and Mr. Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the US), I and those who accompanied me were trying to save lives, helping to avoid stoking a fire of outrage which was being fueled by governmental intransigence and condescension. We failed, ten men died and the fires of outrage and resistance grew for 15 more years.
I and all Irish-Americans of good will, no matter which side we fall on in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, urge Mr. Paterson to release Marian Price, if not out of human compassion, then out of pure political common sense. If he does not act soon, the fires of rage will be reignited, and only he and those behind the veil of governmental secrecy will be to blame.
George Thomas McLaughlin
Founder and Chair of the NY H-Block/Armagh Committee
Guidance Department Chairman, Tolman High School
150 Exchange Street
Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA 02860