The Blanket

Compassionate Parole

Marian Price

Following the media furore over Ciaran Mc Laughlin’s parole protest this week I feel compelled to raise some questions that they have ignored, whether by accident or design. Perhaps the most pertinent one is why Ciaran was forced into the situation where he felt such action necessary. Why did the NIO and the prison authorities single him out for such harsh treatment? It is the norm for prisoners to be granted 72hrs parole in the case of a close family bereavement.

Ciaran is the head of a family who have endured the long and distressing terminal illness of baby Kyle, the authorities prevented him being present when Kyle died and added insult to injury by not allowing him adequate time to grieve with and comfort his family after the funeral. Surely the question being asked should not be about his delay in going back but rather why he wasn’t given longer parole in the first place.

Whilst Ciaran’s was an individual decision, the media reaction to it has in many ways vindicated it. Would the fact that he was granted only 12hrs parole even have been mentioned in the press if he hadn’t taken the action he did? His protest was designed to highlight the discriminatory treatment he was receiving and in that he was very successful.

Claims made by some of the media that the hoax alerts in Derry on the day of the funeral were related to Ciaran’s protest are completely without foundation. In many cases these actually prevented mourners attending the funeral service and in others made them late, myself being one of those affected. It must be stated that throughout Monday many efforts were made by various people to have Ciaran’s parole extended but alas all pleas fell on deaf ears. His action certainly wasn’t planned and seems to have been taken only after all other avenues were exhausted. It came as a surprise to many of us.

Let’s get one thing very clear - this man did not dishonour his parole - he returned to gaol of his own free will having made his point. He knew only too well the consequences of his actions and that he would face further punishment on his return but he was prepared to take that hardship to make his protest. Since his return he has been brought before the governor and charged with being” unlawfully at large”. At the hearing he was surrounded by the prison riot squad, surely totally unnecessary intimidation. He was refused any sort of legal representation. He is currently awaiting “adjudication”, where punishment will be handed out at the whim of the governor-hardly justice.

There is no justifiable reason for his action to affect parole for other Republican prisoners-this man made a protest he did not abscond. The NIO cannot have it both ways, on the one hand they state that all prisoners are treated as individuals and in the next breath we have the likes of Ken Maginnis calling for parole to Republican prisoners to be stopped altogether because of this man’s protest. If these men are to be recognised as a group for punishment to be meted out, then they are entitled to be treated and recognised as a group in all matters.

The only question to be asked here is, if parole is supposed to be granted on humanitarian grounds why was this man singled out for such cruel and inhumane treatment? The security issue cannot be used as he had returned to prison on two previous occasions without delay - his treatment smacks of vindictiveness.






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives





If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.
- Thomas J. Watson, Jr

Index: Current Articles

25 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Compassionate Parole
Marian Price


Culture of Hate?
Billy Mitchell


An Agenda Less Hidden
Davy Carlin


The Rioting Police
Anthony McIntyre


Still Life of Sorts
Brian Mór


No Surrender!
Brian Mór


Not An Inch!
Brian Mór


The Adventures of Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór


22 August 2002


Listen Rather Than Punish
Anthony McIntyre


To Hell With the True Believers
Newton Emerson


Merger Mania
Ciarán Irvine


Interface Workers Snubbed
Billy Mitchell


A Vibrant Feile
Sean Smyth


RIRA & CIRA: No Support and Going Nowhere?
Liam O Ruairc




The Blanket



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: