In 1981, the wishes of hunger strikers, including IRA prisoner Bobby Sands MP, were respected and doctors supervised political death-fasts in Occupied Ireland by political prisoners demanding their international rights as Irish POWs refused by Margaret Thatcher. However Marian Price and her sister Dolours Price who were on hunger strike for 200 days were force fed 400 times while their comrades Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg died, which Marian described as follows:
“Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with sheets you can’t struggle,” says Price. “You clench your teeth to try to keep your mouth closed but they push a metal spring device around your jaw to prise it open. They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your mouth. Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your head back. You can’t move. They throw whatever they like into the food mixer – orange juice, soup, or cartons of cream if they want to beef up the calories. They take jugs of this gruel from the food mixer and pour it into a funnel attached to the tube. The force-feeding takes 15 minutes but it feels like forever. You’re in control of nothing. You’re terrified the food will go down the wrong way and you won’t be able to let them know because you can’t speak or move. You’re frightened you’ll choke to death.
“Most modern doctors conclude that forcible feeding is a form of torture. The intention, however by the British to cover situations in which prisoners are repeatedly tortured and have attempted to die by hunger-strike to avoid the continuation of their torture. Just as doctors are sometimes advised not to revive Irish political prisoners simply to allow their torture to continue, they are advised not to force-feed prisoners so that they can be maltreated and interrogated. The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits “degrading” treatment in Article 3. The patient’s right to refuse treatment should be respected.
In 1980 Marian Price received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and was freed on humanitarian grounds after suffering from anorexia nervosa in 1981, as a direct result of being force fed by the British. Marian Price is a vocal opponent of Provisional Sinn Féin’s surrender with the Bad Friday Agreement, she has said: “It is not, certainly not, what I went to prison for.” On 15 May 2011, the un-elected Secretary of State for Occupied Ireland Owen Paterson smashed the Peace agreement and broke the Royal Prerogative by revoking her release from prison.
Her detention has been described as ‘de facto internment’ by Paterson’s collaborators in Government. Marian was imprisoned in the all male prison of Maghaberry for what the British have termed operational reason but what has now been leaked, that in fact the British intend to force feed Marian again in the hospital wing of the prison, where she is currently being politically interned.
Provisional Sinn Féin are on record that Marian Price is entitled to due process and the revoking of her licence is completely unacceptable along with the fact that Marian Price is now being held in Maghaberry Prison for men is also totally unacceptable. Marian Price is being held in different circumstances from other female prisoners because the British plan to force feed her again. While some Provisional Sinn Féin personnel in Government have reiterated their demand that Marian Price is entitled to full legal process and should be released immediately on the bail already set by court, it is believed their leader Martin McGuinness in the British Parliament is quite happy to let her die, as he sees Irish political prisoners as the soft underbelly of resistance to British Occupation in Ireland.
Marian’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan has told a court: “As part of that application we had written to the NIO seeking a copy of the actual pardon that was conferred on the defendant in 1981. To this date the NIO still have not served that important document on us, and it is central to us making an abuse of process application.”
The defence case is that terms of the pardon covered all of the offences for which Price was convicted in 1974, Mr Corrigan added. Her lawyers are seeking to establish there was no power for the pardon to be revoked. The judge emphasized that any documents required for a defence should be provided by the British who are accused of abuse of process as usual. Meanwhile Marian’s other comrades continue to be tortured daily in the British gaol.