This week marks the 41st anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial by a British conservative government.
In the early hours of August 9, 1971, members of the British Army forcefully removed over 300 men and boys from their homes in exclusively nationalist areas right across the north of Ireland.
On Thursday morning, to commemorate that event and to highlight the fact that today a British conservative government continues to use internment, members of the Derry-based ‘Prison Crisis Group’ (PCG) staged a dramatic action entitled ‘The Farce of Justice’ outside the city’s courthouse in Bishop Street.
Calling for the immediate release of both Marian Price and Martin Corey, the staged event saw six hooded men and women in white boiler suits, with hands bound, marched along the street to a lone voice “calling on all of those present to act now and to speak out for the voiceless”.
Within the ‘audience’ witnessing the action there then emerged a ‘speakers corner’ where others raised voices of dissent.
Addressing the NI Secretary of State, Owen Patterson, with specific regard to the case of Marian Price, a member of PCG said: “In normal circumstances in any jurisdiction, it would not be in the gift of a politician on his or her own to order the release of a prisoner. But in this case it was you personally who ordered that Marian be imprisoned and you personally who can end her imprisonment.
“This is to say that she was denied due process. In common parlance, she was interned.
“We are aware of the claim that confidential information seen by you provided the basis for returning Marian to prison.
“This is precisely the explanation given by Brian Faulkner and the Unionist Government in 1971 to justify the introduction of internment then - that all internment orders were backed by intelligence information, which couldn’t be divulged. That was 41 years ago. We had thought that the days of repressive law and arbitrary imprisonment were over. But you have brought them back. The principles involved have not changed over time. We deny your right, or the right of any politician, to sign a document negating the liberty of any citizen without the production or testing of evidence or any public procedure of any kind. This flies in the face of the most basic norms of civil rights and justice. We demand that you undo the denial of civil rights and injustice, which you have inflicted on Marian by freeing her now!”