Defeating Immoral Detention Without Trial
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.