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Britain orders senior IRA die-hard back to prison

Britain orders senior IRA die-hard back to prison

Britain ordered a senior supporter of Irish Republican Army splinter groups to be sent back to prison Monday, an exceptional move, because of her alleged links to dissident threats against Queen Elizabeth II.
Northern Ireland police rearrested 57-year-old Marian Price at a Londonderry courthouse after she received bail Monday. She had been arraigned on a charge of encouraging terrorism during an Easter event involving threats from masked members of the Real IRA splinter group.
Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, said he ordered Price to go back behind bars because she posed a potential threat to Northern Ireland citizens and the queen, who arrives Tuesday in Dublin to begin her first state visit to the Republic of Ireland.
Police accused Price of handling the script read aloud by a masked Real IRA member at a Londonderry graveside rally April 25. The masked man, one of seven at the rally, said Irish republicans should do whatever they can to disrupt the queen's four-day visit.
"The queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and not wanted on Irish soil," the masked man said, reading from the script. He said Real IRA members would "do our best to ensure she (gets) that message."
Price's lawyer, Peter Corrigan, told Londonderry District Court that his client had been holding the Real IRA statement only because the masked man handed it to her, saying he didn't want it to blow away in the wind. He said Britain's order to send her back to prison immediately "drives a coach and horse through the presumption of innocence."
She won bail and was briefly freed, but immediately rearrested outside the courtroom and driven away by police.
About 50 of her supporters outside the building chanted "SS RUC!" _ a reference to the Nazis' extremist troops in World War II and to the old name for Northern Ireland's police, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most of the Irish Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, denounced Price's imprisonment.
"Marian Price is entitled to due process and the revoking of her license is completely unacceptable," said Sinn Fein lawmaker Raymond McCartney, a former IRA commander and hunger striker.
Typically, IRA and other paramilitary convicts in Northern Ireland have won early paroles from prison on condition they do not become involved again in extremism. The power to order these convicts back behind bars is rarely exercised in part because of the risk of provoking riots or other violence.
Paterson said Britain "will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposal under the law to counter the residual terrorist threat."
Price was just 19 when she joined a 10-member IRA team in mounting the IRA's first car-bomb attacks on London in March 1973. Two of four bombs detonated outside the Old Bailey courthouse and a British Army recruitment center in Whitehall, the center of Britain's civil service. About 200 people were wounded and one man died of a heart attack.
Nine of the 10 _ including her older sister Dolours and future Sinn Fein politician Gerry Kelly _ were caught, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Marian Price was paroled ahead of the rest in 1980 on humanitarian grounds after suffering from tuberculosis and anorexia in prison.
Dolours and Marian Price both are prominent activists in a Real IRA-linked pressure group called the 32 County Sovereignty Committee. The name refers to the traditional IRA goal of uniting Northern Ireland's six counties with the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland. They both reject the 1998 peace accord for the British territory because it seeks to reform Northern Ireland rather than abolish it.
The Real IRA killed a 25-year-old Catholic policeman April 2 with a booby-trap bomb hidden under the victim's car, the first such killing in two years.
At the April 25 rally, the masked figure warned that any new police recruits, particularly Catholics, were traitors who risked the same fate. "They are as liable for execution as anyone," he said.


Updated : 2021-03-01 06:32 GMT+08:00