Ex-IRA bomber’s royal pardon is ‘lost’ by British government (Sunday World)
A piece of paper that could free the North’s most famous female republican from jail has been lost by the British government.
Old Bailey bomber, Marian Price, has been in solitary confinement in Maghaberry prison for six months.
She was arrested and charged with holding a statement for a masked Real IRA man at an Easter commemoration in Derry in April but was granted bail by a judge.
However, Secretary of State Owen Patterson then withdrew her licence and returned Price to prison. Her lawyer claimed Patterson had no legal right to do so.
Gravely ill after a lengthy hunger-strike and force-feeding in Brixton prison, Price was released on licence in 1980. Weeks later, she was granted the royal prerogative of mercy.
Solicitor, Peter Corrigan, said: “The royal pardon my client received over-rode her licence. It wiped the slate clean so she couldn’t be returned to jail on the basis of previous offences. Owen Patterson didn’t have the power to send her back to prison when he did.
“We’ve asked the NIO to produce the pardon which would free her.. They’ve told us this important document is lost and probably has been shredded. It’s all very convenient.”
Supporters of Price, a mother-of-two, will highlight her case by protesting outside a major GAA match at Belfast’s Casement Park today.
Price’s husband, Jerry McGlinchey, said: “Regardless of politics, surely everyone can recognise it’s wrong to hold a 57-year-old woman in solitary confinement in a male prison, with no contact with the outside world, for six months?
“My wife has no problem going before the courts and answering the charge she faces. She has no difficulty serving any sentence she receives. But she objects to being interned indefinitely with no rights and no release date.”
Ex-republican prisoner Martin Rafferty of the Maghaberry friends’ and family support group said: “The silence of the great and good is deafening. There have been campaigns on the plight of women in solitary confinement in Iranian jails.
“Apart from family visits, Marian Price has been held in isolation, starved of all human contact, for six months. That will have serious physical and psychological affects on any human being. Amnesty International and other groups must stop turning a blind eye and take up her case.”
With her sister Dolours and Gerry Kelly, now a senior Sinn Féin politician, Price was part of an 11-strong IRA unit which in 1973 planted bombs at the Old Bailey, New Scotland Yard, Whitehall, and the British Forces Broadcasting Office.
Only the Old Bailey and Whitehall bombs exploded, injuring 200 people, mainly with flying glass. One man died of a heart attack. They sisters were arrested attempting to fly home from Heathrow Airport.
They went on hunger-strike in Brixton prison as part of their campaign to be repatriated to serve their sentences in Northern Ireland. Price was force-fed 400 times over six months.
Eventually, they were transferred to Armagh jail. Price was freed in 1980, suffering life-threatening health conditions from the hunger-strike and force-feeding. Once a close associate of Gerry Adams, she became increasingly disillusioned with Sinn Féin, opposing its political strategy from the mid-1990s.



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