Defeating Immoral Detention Without Trial

New York attorney Martin Galvin, with a letter that featured in the Irish News, today, 10 February 2014.

The headline of Jim Gibney’s column following Martin Corey’s release, Detention without trial is an immoral practice is dead on. Lamentably, the British have marked their cards that Martin Corey will not be the last subjected to Internment by License. Why would the British give up a carefully crafted device which they see as a success?

Britain did not halt its 1971-5 version of Internment because Merlyn Rees and the British regime were suddenly conscience stricken about the numbers of Irish caged behind the wire without charge or trial. Internment was beaten, by the unbreakable spirit of the internees and their families surely, but also because supporters vowed that “round the world the truth will echo”. As a student I can still remember the outrage I felt rising inside me the first time I heard campaigners detail British mistreatment of the “Hooded Men” and other internees.

These families and campaigners did not stop until British officials were sickened by unanswerable questions about why they imprisoned so many unwilling Irish subjects without charge or trial.

The British have put up formidable barriers to block such ‘truth echoing’ today. Like Pontius Pilate, British colonial secretaries wash their hands of Martin Corey and blame the Parole Commissioners’ rubber-stamp. The British boast that Parole Commissioners answer to the compromised Justice Ministry of David Ford, adding that Ford sits with Sinn Fein’s backing.

Martin Corey was banished from his home and county. One wonders if he spends his time in internal exile trying to guess which ex-prisoners, Republicans or suspected Republican sympathizers must be avoided because the British secretly list them illegal to associate with and another excuse to return him to Maghaberry.

He is hostage for the silence of his solicitors, family and close friends. Speaking against the injustice done Martin Corey will trigger his re-Internment and more injustice.

British officials who once coldly measured an acceptable level of violence are not troubled by calculations of an acceptable level of Internment. They calculate whether nationalists and Republicans will sit still at Stormont for familiar names like Martin Corey and Marian Price, being Interned by License, while others including Alec McCrory, Colin Duffy, and more to come, are Interned by Remand.

Press statements and party resolutions mean little to the crown so long as the party members who issue them remain at Stormont or on constabulary boards as visible tokens of assent for the crown’s “immoral practice”.

Can Republicans take the kind of bold initiative necessary to show the British that we are serious? When Gerry McGeough was arrested on decades old charges, it was said that unless Republicans refused to swallow this injustice others would pay. John Downey and Seamus Kearney are paying the price.


  1. From Sandy Boyer

    This was written by the partner of Cogus POW, Ta McWilliams a few hours ago a chairde, a disgrace to say the least in the 21st century!

    Not long off the phone to Ta I asked him how things were in the jail he was telling me the heating is still off the pipes are absolutely freezing and told me that there's a 71yr old man sitting shivering with his coat on
    as his only source of heat it is an absolute disgrace that these men are having to endure this treatment in the middle off winter in this day and age

  2. It is the sort of thing used to happen during the blanket protest: dead of night, middle of winter, no windwows and the pipes would pack in. Thought it was Siberia. One problem with Maghaberry is that it might stake a claim as a modern prison but it sits within a prison system that is anything but modern.

  3. Now if it was a 71yr old Muslim freezing at night in a British prison, how long would it be for human rights groups to scream "breech of human rights" or some European law....?

  4. 'Press statements and party resolutions mean little.....'

    Yes Martin, by their deeds, or as in this case by their lack of, shall we truly know them.

    Likewise empty solidarity greetings for John Downey, all the other OTRs and prisoner of conscience Margaretta Darcy from Adams at the Provisionals' weekend propaganda party get to sound shallow, insincere, manipulative and even offensive when when compared to their actual passivity on these issues.

  5. One of the main complaints received by the Red Cross during internment was that, prisoners had no idea how long they were to be held.
    No trial, no sentence no definitive end in sight.
    Now it's happening all over again and some of those who so passionately sang 'round the world the truth with echo' are now to the fore in suppressing that truth.

  6. From Sandy Boyer

    Clr. Angela Nelson reports that the crisis in Maghaberry prison may have been resolved. We are waiting for confirmation from prisoners' families.

    Feb 11 From Cllr. Angela Nelson's Facebook;

    For Information:

    I have been on the phone all morning to Maghaberry Prison in relation to the heating and feeding problems our prisoners have experienced over this
    last two days. I have just managed to speak to the duty officer who has assured me that the problem has now been solved. He said the heating has
    been on since late yesterday afternoon and that the men received warm food at tea-time last night and this morning. If anyone speaks to any prisoners this morning could they please confirm these issues have been addressed...

  7. "Now if it was a 71yr old Muslim freezing at night in a British prison, how long would it be for human rights groups to scream "breech of human rights" or some European law....?"


    And if they did would that be wrong? Of course not. Not sure why you have singled out Muslims, anyone who is mistreated in prison is worthy of support,surely?

    By the way if you believe Muslim prisoners get preferential treatment in British jails you are way off the mark.

    Do the more savvy of them demand what they are entitled to, yes, and why not.

  8. Mick, I could have easily said, blacks, Indians. Muslim prisoners was the first thing I thought about. Probably due to fact that anytime I look at British press the word Muslim is more often than not headline news in some shape or form.

    Do I think that Muslim prisoners get any better treatment inside UK prisons than UK nationals. I'd like to think it's the same..TV's in their cells, some have play stations, some prisons even have a limited form of internet. What I am beginning to learn is that anyone who is locked up in the north because of their republican beliefs has a lot less 'privileges' than their UK counterparts.

    The savy prisoners shouldn't have to demand their basic human rights. In fact, no one should. That should be taken as read and given at the outset (unless they're Jimmy Saville types , then bread and water for 30yrs and once the 30yrs is up, shoot them at dawn)..
    These 'savy' prisoners, why don't they demand the same rights etc for everyone?

    And for leaving an OAP freezing in a cell over night with no warm food....I'd hazard a guess someone is simply playing mind games. I doubt someone forgot to turn the heating on and I doubt the cook was on a day wouldn't happen in a UK mainland prison. There would be too many questions asked.