• July 2, 2012

News from Celtic Press

The UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has responded to the Celtic League following a letter sent to him regarding the continued detention of Mrs Marian McGlinchey.

The letter from the Northern Ireland Office argues that “allegations of isolation and torture” against Mrs McGlinchey are “entirely wrong” and that Mrs McGlinchey had her licence revoked “in accordance with a recommendation from the independent Parole Commissioners”. The full text of the letter is set out below.

“Dear Mr Tal-e-bot,

Thank you for your email to the Secretary of State dated 05 May 2012, in respect of Mrs Marian McGlinchey (nee Price) which has been passed to me to respond.

You have expressed concern about Mrs McGlinchey’s licence revocation and her detention. I would like to take this opportunity to explain the situation and address some of the misinformation that surrounds these issues.

By way of background, Mrs McGlinchey was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for two counts of causing an explosion. On 30 April 1980 Mrs McGlinchey was released on life licence from the two life sentences. In addition to the two terms of life imprisonments imposed upon her, Mrs McGlinchey had also been sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to cause an explosion. She was subsequently awarded the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) on 30 April 1980, but only in regard to the 20 year sentence. Mrs McGlinchey signed a licence upon her release, agreeing that she could be returned to prison if she did not act within the terms of her release (for example, if she became a risk to the public or if she committed further offences).

Mrs McGlinchey’s licence revocation was in accordance with a recommendation from the independent Parole Commissioners who will now review the case in full. The Parole Commissioners are an independent body formed to make decisions on the release of life sentenced prisoners in Northern Ireland. Mrs McGlinchey is aware of the case against her and her legal representatives have the opportunity to challenge it and to make representations on her behalf. The review procedure is designed to ensure that Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) obligations of the European Convention on Human Rights are met. Mrs McGlinchey’s case has been conducted compatibly with human rights legislation.

The Parole Commissioners have considered the circumstances surrounding Mrs McGlinchey’s release. Following evidence provided on behalf of Mrs McGlinchey and the Secretary of State, the Commissioners have concluded that the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) was exercised to allow Mrs McGlinchey to be released early from her fixed sentence of 20 years only, and did not apply to her life sentences. The mechanism for release from the life sentences was a life licence.

Decisions on bail and decisions on licence revocations are taken independently of each other and are based on different considerations. When granting bail, the court will not have had sight of all of the information which led to the recommendation that was made by the Parole Commissioners.

Mrs McGlinchey’s detention is a matter for the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Justice Minister. We have been assured that allegations of isolation and torture are entirely wrong. You will wish to be aware that Mrs McGlinchey herself applied to be housed separately from other prisoners and has always had the opportunity to associate with other female prisoners if she chooses.

As you will appreciate, the Secretary of State cannot comment on the detail of the case whilst the Parole Commissioners’ review continues.

I hope that this letter has provided some clarity on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

On behalf of the Secretary of State”

Related links:

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary,
Celtic League
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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