Jailed republican Price in legal limbo despite her illness
She is also likely to face fresh charges relating to her appearance at a dissident republican rally in Derry on Easter Monday 2011 when she held up a statement from which a masked dissident read, warning of further attacks on PSNI officers.
This was a few weeks after the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in Omagh. She previously argued she did not know what was in the statement.
Paterson denies the charge levelled against him by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and others that he has effectively interned her without trial, his office insisting “due process” has and is being followed.
Similar “internment” arguments are being made about another former IRA prisoner, Martin Corey, who has also had his release licence revoked.
Price and her solicitors argue that she was released by way of British royal pardon and therefore Paterson could not override that pardon.
A spokeswoman for Paterson said the North’s parole commissioners concluded at the end of a legal hearing that the royal pardon did not apply to the life sentence element of her Old Bailey conviction, that the licence was properly revoked and that there was “contemporaneous material” which supported this view – a point her solicitor Peter Corrigan disputes.
Dolours Price, who was released in 1981, questions how she and other IRA prisoners released around that period were freed by royal pardon, but her sister was not.
The issue is complicated by the fact the official copy of the pardon is lost or shredded, which in itself has raised suspicions of dirty dealings among her supporters.
Paterson’s spokeswoman said it was the commissioners who decided Price posed a risk to the public, adding the commissioners were now considering further evidence to decide whether she should “remain in custody or be released”.
In Dublin on Thursday, Paterson repeated he would not “override carefully established legal arrangements” which in this instance are the work of the parole commissioners.
Which is where the matter rests at the moment – a sort of catch 22 legal limbo. For the case to be heard, Price must appear before the commissioners, but Corrigan says that, as testified by various doctors, she isn’t capable of so doing. And round and round it goes.
Corrigan acknowledges there are legal complexities but says that regardless of his protestations, Paterson as Northern Secretary has the power to facilitate Price being granted bail.
This, he adds, would free her from custody and allow her to begin the process of health recovery, when she might be in a position to coherently deal with any future legal cases against her.
Aside from the personal humanitarian element to the case, it must be said that for anything to happen Price would test the current political solidity.
In the meantime, Dolours Price says she is worried and “heartbroken” about her sister’s situation.
“We formed bonds in English prisons and in Irish prison that can never be broken. I hope and trust she will find the strength and courage to keep on going.”
“In 1973 the two sisters, who remain steadfastly opposed to the present political dispensation, believing it to be a republican sell-out, were part of the IRA unit that planted four car bombs outside the Old Bailey court in central London