The Price of Change

Guest writer Pauline Mellon, a Marian Price campaigner, with a piece on the implications from justice that arise from the defecit between the promise of the GFA and the facts on the ground.

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement or as it's also known the Belfast Agreement. This agreement was to bring change, a 'new beginning.'

For me this anniversary is a reminder that fifteen years on very little has changed. The ongoing dispute over the flag pole at Belfast City Hall and the promise of a border poll are proof that 15 years on here in the North of Ireland our communities are still polls/poles apart.

However the continued polarisation of the communities in the north is only one aspect of the intrinsic failings of the agreement. There is no promised Bill Of Rights, and there are now more peace walls than there were when the agreement was signed. The spectre of emigration still looms large over the country. Emigration was up last year 16% on the previous 12 months with 46,500 people leaving Ireland.

When I hear mention of the Good Friday Agreement two names in particular spring to mind, Marian Price (59) and Martin Corey (63). These people have been bailed unconditionally by the courts yet remain incarcerated for their past.

Marian Price and Martin Corey are victims of the Kafkaesque justice system operating in the North of Ireland. Their treatment is in direct conflict with the many promises outlined in the Good Friday Agreement and an example of the continued erosion of the core principals of civil justice. This treatment is proof that our micro government cannot be trusted to protect the rights of all. A micro government which is manoeuvred, manipulated and meticulously managed by Cruel Britannia. Considering the failing of the Stormont regime one can see a direct correlation between what's happening here in the north and the writings of Frank Kitson.

Marian Price is held on a charge that was dismissed and then later reinstated and a charge based on third party hearsay evidence that neither she nor her legal team are privy to. This in itself is an affront to open justice as it removes all grounds for legal challenge.

The continued use of closed/secret evidence enables the government to play the national security card and when necessary drape a blanket of secrecy over wrong doing. In Marian's case this blanket among other things may be well and truly draped over the the Royal Pardon she received in 1980, a pardon the authorities claim is missing.

At present Marian's case is front of the Northern Ireland Parole Commission leaving her entirely at their mercy. They in a closed court will make their decision on whether or not Marian Price (59) should be returned to her family. The fact she has already been granted bail to them is irrelevant. To date the commissioners continue to stymie and stonewall proceedings .

In a recent report published by 'Rights Watch UK' in respect of Marian's situation they raise concerns at how:

the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland have themselves stated that they are not independent from the government in that they are appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and can be dismissed by him. They are therefore part of the executive arm of the state and not the judicial arm of the state.

This calls into question the independence of the judiciary. Surely in the interest of justice there should be separation between the judiciary and state. What further compounds this is that in the cases of both Marian Price and Martin Corey they were granted bail yet the judiciary were overruled by the British secretary of state.

The report cited above concludes with calling for Marian's release on compassionate grounds and states 'We continue to press for the release of Marian Price and she be afforded the right to a fair trial and not treated as a political pawn in a state of exceptionalism.'

We often hear how things have changed and how we need to moved on. How do we move on when people continue to be persecuted for their opposing opinion and past. What is the price of change?


  1. kNOw Justice, kNOw Peace. The selective internment of Price, Corey et al is is signficiant on a whole range of issues. Primarily, it is designed to send out a clear signal thta Whitehall is still in charge and Stormont's primary function is do it's bidding! They (and Gerry McGeough) are being cynically used to send a clear and unequivocal message that traditional Republican ideology has no place in the NEW political dispensation of the O6C. It's future is to remain firmly within the Union. Rather than icons of resistance they are being portrayed as 'relics' of the past. This 'get with the pogrom' mentality is pushed upon traditional Republicans from all directions and especially from PSF. These days they adopt the condescending 'look how much we have achieved'approach when dealing with so-called 'dissident' concerns. If the 'one for all and all for one' camaraderie which galvanised us during '81 has been gradually eroded away to be replaced with 'All For One, and All For NONE'! GFA and it's watered down versions enabled governance of the 'O6C' to fit into a modern colonial framework where our politicans (with grandeous titles) effectively adminster Britannia's rule via Stormont!

  2. One of the architects of that agreement is Tony B..Liars chief of staff,Jonathan Powell (author of Adams address to the Ard Fheis on policing)he states in todays Irish News that"the loyalist community had not received enough support,Sinn Fein have looked after their communities,the working class catholic communities," there you have it Pauline you are mistaken, the GFA is the panacea to all our ills .the problem with Marian ,Martin and those stubborn dissidents is that they havent swallowed the shit that passes as a remedy,on the centenary anniversary of the Dublin lockout we witness once again the injustice of those who control this state,this time their heavy handed response is not to lock people out but to lock up anyone who dares question their authority ..

  3. Pauline,

    good that you are flagging these matter up. As Marty says, there are some who do not swallow the crap as if it is chocolate

  4. Are Price & Corey are political guinea pigs for the introduction of Orwellian type society? As it stands the text of the proposed 'Jusitce & Security Bill' Bill has been agreed and it now waits for the final stage of Royal Assent when the Bill will become an Act of Parliament.
    The introduction of 'secret courts' via this bill will spell beginning of the end for an individual Human Rights!
    What is very interesting in an O6C context is the keen interest that has been expressed by the DUP. On Tuesday 12th Feb. Ian Paisley Jnr attended the Joint Committee on Human Rights fourth oral evidence session on the Justice and Security Bill. Accidentially, this coincided with the gay marriage vote which diverted it away from the media limelight!! Peers and MP's on the committee had grave concerns about the lack of safeguards against abuse. To try and counteract the potential for such abuse of powers they proposed a range of ammendments. These were specifically designed to allow for a claimant to question the authenticity of evidence provided by the intelligence agencies (MI5/6) in a closed session, i.e. create a form of accountability and transparency with regard to how the intelligency agenices compiled their 'secret evidence'. However, their efforts to have these suggestions taken on baord were either rejected or nullified by protestations from among others Ian Paisley Jnr. As a result, if this Bill is successfully passed, he has played his part in ENSURING that the use of 'secret evidence' and closed court sessions will NOT be used as a last resort AND that those individuals who stand accused will NOT have the LEGAL RIGHT to question the AUTHENTICITY of evidence provided by MI5/6 etc..Effectively, intelligence agenices WILL be handed a 'carte blanche' to act as they please and potentially open the door to wholesale corruption!!
    p.s. Still looking for an official PSF press release on this..

  5. Pauline-

    It is not the GFA fault that the brits keep Marians royal Pardon out of her reach-but she should be allowed home during the long search for that document-

  6. The GFA, even before it was signed and endorsed by all, was a foregone conclusion, the wee 06C was to remain steadfastly within the UK's grasp.

    But SF knew this from day one, they knew there would be no united Ireland, they just kept lying to everyone through gritted teth and false smiles, "NOW WE HAVE PEACE" , what peace?, we still have pro British Police Force with ex special branch RUC working on the most secret documents within HET, that to me is a gross insult to everyone of those who supported that shameful GFA , now all ex POW's have to keep an eye out, they should come out, speak up and state, This is not what we supported, Internment was Ended. Beware the new laws being pushed through parliament in the we hours of the morning when there is no one to oppose them. I call on all Ex POW's to give there voice to this type of Internment, we are all being tested by the British to see how much we can put up with and how many more draconian laws they can squeeze through to demoralise those who have not bitten into that big piece of chocolate cake. Time will but tell as to when those ex pow's who agreed to the GFA will realise there error of judgement and start calling for the release of Marian ,and , Martin.

  7. That was an erudite commentary and thought the wording, Kafkaesque justice system was a perfect word to use especially backed up with the comment"one can see a direct correlation between what's happening here in the north and the writings of Frank Kitson" I have always thought the way the prisoners were released on licence was almost an omission, that they were guilty of ordinary crimes and not the political actions of freedom fighters at the end of a conflict,i believe everyone should of received pardons.But when all's said and done i wasn't the person in prison, but i don't believe the GFA is being implemented by either side in its entirety

  8. Dean O Neill yes indeed a cara,after the war all pows should have been released unconditionally,as in other conflicts ,the release on licence of the prisoners was imo a retrograde step in terms of the hard fought dirty protest and hunger strike,and an admission the the war was indeed a criminal enterprise,and yes I also agree that those prisoners were justified in taking any form of release,what we have witnessed since was not worth on hour in a cell never mind the suffering endured by so many then and those who now are enduring that which we were promised was a thing of the past,those who claim to be the leadership of the republican /nationalist people have been and are a fucking disgrace to the name Irishman/woman

  9. prisoners from day one with the exception of the internees were released after a fixed term (lifers somewhat different). The Brits were no more going to officially announce a general amnesty for political prisoners than they were going to admit holding political prisoners. The political content of the prisoners' actions is invalidated by neither the GFA release mechanism nor the refusal by the Brits to state that they held political prisoners. Both examples are saturated with political meaning. To get to the GFA release mechanism Tony Blair said the criminal justice system had to be turned on its head.

  10. Just learned that Marian's case is in court today. Fingers crossed.