Free Marian Price!
A major meeting in Belfast on March 8th, addressed by Bernadette McAliskey, indicates that the bizarre detention of a long-standing republican activist may be about to develop into a significant political issue.
Marian is a former prisoner whom, the British claim, broke the terms of her release license by holding a sheet of paper while a man in IRA uniform read from it. Her lawyers say that she was granted a royal pardon. The British say they have lost the document!
To a large extent the legal issues are secondary to the underlying political issues:
The Irish peace process rests on a dictatorial state power - republican ex-prisoners can be returned to jail if they demonstrate political opposition to the settlement (in contrast loyalists have carte blanche in a range of criminal activities).
Behind the scenes there is quite ferocious repression of republicans. In Marian's case this means constant solitary confinement - until recently as the only female prisoner in a male prison.
The repression is fully supported by the "nationalist family" of the Dublin government, nationalist parties, Church, GAA and (despite protestations of concern) Sinn Fein. This is implicit in the moral panic that follows any republican military action, where all opponents of the peace process are labelled mad dogs. It was explicit in the GAA ban on the Marian Price meeting, which was forced to meet in an alternative venue.
At the moment the campaign is focusing on a humanitarian appeal. However the issue itself is deeply political and represents a real threat to Sinn Fein and to the current imperialist consensus.