RENEWED calls for the immediate release of West Belfast republican Marian Price have been made after local parties met with the Secretary of State and the Minister for Justice this week. A Sinn Féin delegation, including West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, met with Justice Minister David Ford on Monday when they called Ms Price’s continued imprisonment “an affront to natural justice”.
“On humanitarian terms alone she should be moved to an outside hospital, never mind the fact that her continued imprisonment damages public confidence in the justice system,” said Ms McCann.
“In the absence of her release, we pressed the Minister to take immediate steps to have Marian Price moved to an outside hospital. Considering her physical and mental conditional, it is imperative that the Minister act swiftly so that Marian Price can get the care she so obviously needs.”
On the same day, SDLP MLAs met Secretary of State Owen Paterson to discuss the Price case. Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said it was “at times a heated exchange”.
“We sought to question the Secretary of State about the rationale for the continued detention of Marian Price. We also expressed concern about the impact of incarceration on her physical and mental health and due process in this case,” he said.
“In the absence of her release we pressed the Minister to take immediate steps to have Marian Price moved to an outside hospital.”
Although being careful not to mention Marian Price by name, the Secretary of State addressed her continued imprisonment during a debate on the North in the House of Commons.
He said: “The parole commissioners are an independent body appointed by the Justice Minister in Northern Ireland.
“The commissioners’ role is to make decisions on the release and recall of life-sentence prisoners in Northern Ireland. If information is brought to my attention, I share it with the commissioners and seek a recommendation from them regarding whether to revoke a licence.
“If they recommend that I do so, I will revoke, because I have a duty to protect the public.”
When asked to elaborate on the status of Ms Price’s health during a recent debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Justice Minister David Ford said her health “will be kept under review by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, as is the case for all other prisoners”.
“If I receive any medical advice that relates to my responsibilities with regard to Mrs Price’s individual healthcare needs, I will act upon it immediately,” he said.