It was deeply moving to read your double page coverage about the publication of In the Footsteps of Ann and glimpses into the special hardships suffered by Republican women prisoners.
However it was troubling to see the photograph of a teenage Marian Price smiling from behind the bars of a British prison cell, and know that almost forty years later, she is again being brutally mistreated by the British, under the same IRA charge.
Forty years ago Republicans vowed to “Bring them Home” and beat British intransigence to bring Marian and Dolours back to that “Welcome home” banner in Armagh prison and finally home to Belfast under the pardon since shredded by Owen Paterson.
Today Marian like Martin Corey is held under a policy of Internment by license and denied the right to see or refute any secret information or “closed material” rubber-stamped for Paterson by Ford’s parole commissioners. When a British judge ruled that this star-chamber set-up was a breach of European Law, Paterson overruled him and ordered Martin Corey kept at Maghaberry until the colonial secretary could get a ruling more to his liking.
The British think they can disregard demands made by Sinn Fein and the SDLP for Marian’s release, so long as these parties remain tethered within Stormont and attend constabulary board meetings as visible tokens of assent for British policies.
The British calculate that Sinn Fein is now so tightly anchored by its places at Stormont that the party can no longer break ranks with the crown and walk out, even if it means sitting still for Internment. If Sinn Fein sits still for Internment now, then expect policies like Internment by License or Internment by Remand to be methodically used against more Republicans.
Are Republicans still capable of the type of the bold initiative and political leadership necessary to “bring them home” and end Internment? Were all the years of suffering and struggle about becoming reluctant accomplices in an acceptable level of Internment?