The sentence is suspended for three years
Price was convicted after admitting to purchasing a mobile phone used by the Real IRA (RIRA) to claim responsibility for their March 2009 attack on Massereene Army Barracks, in which they murdered two soldiers. She was previously convicted in November 1974 for being part of the Provisional IRA team behind the Old Bailey bombing.
Despite her admission of guilt, the judge claimed that sending Price back to prison would be severely detrimental to her mental health and that he had received reports that she was “no longer interested in political activity”. The sentence is suspended for three years, meaning that if she comes again before the court within that time she would serve the longer of her two current sentences (they are concurrent, so the smaller is only technically served) in addition to whatever sentence was handed down for the fresh offence.
The investigation into the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar remains open and the PSNI are appealing for information.
‘Tartan terrorist’ stalls extradition from Ireland
Adam Busby, the founder of something called the ‘Scottish National Liberation Army’, has appealed to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ireland against attempts to extradite him to Scotland to face terror charges.
The 64-year-old allegedly threatened to poison the water supplies of English cities and murder Gordon Brown. He also made a series of hoax telephone calls to the Scottish media and Samaritans charity in which he made false bomb threats. He was arrested in connexion with seven offences in 2010, and is also wanted in the United States after levelling bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh last year.
Busby has lived in the Republic since 1980, and maintains that since he has lived there for more than thirty years he ought to face trial there. He also cited the fact that he would face a much stiffer sentence if prosecuted in the UK as evidence against deportation. The judge overseeing his case took the view that since he was attempting to terrorise Scots, they had the right to claim jurisdiction when bringing him to justice.
Union backs NI police officer as Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly avoids charges
Gerry Kelly, a Sinn Fein MLA, has avoided charges after he stood in front of a police Land Rover during an Orange Order parade. Claiming to be ‘calming a difficult situation’, he parked himself in front of it and clung to the bonnet of the vehicle as it drove a short distance down the road.
Kelly has instead received and accepted an ‘informed warning’, a sub-caution wherein the subject accepts that they broke the law but do not have a conviction, and which only remains on a criminal record for 12 months.
Controversially the police officer behind the wheel has also received the same reprimand, for ‘driving without due care and attention’. This has outraged the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, which suggests the officer might be the victim of a political trade-off and has stated that it will support the officer in any prosecution should they not accept the informed warning.
The Kelly decision has also angered Unionists, especially coming hot on the heels of Marian Price’s escaping jail for admitted involvement in a RIRA attack. The UUP’s Tom Elliot claimed that some unionists saw this pattern of being ‘very, very lenient towards republicans’ and perceived a bias against their community. A sense of ‘the system’ being biased against them, if sincerely held, could well produce a distrust of institutions and process, which might explain the difficulty Dr Haass had getting the unionist parties signed up to his proposals at the close of last year.
Will anything come of the Cowdenbeath by-election?
The latest Scottish Parliament by-election is coming up on 23 January, after the passing of former Labour incumbent Helen Eadie. The BBC has a full list of the candidates here.
In addition to the big four Scottish parties and UKIP the field is filled out by two minor parties. One of these, the Victims Final Right, is the vehicle for the step-father of a Fife man who died from a stab wound in 2007. The family are using the by-election to draw attention to their case, which they believe was not properly investigated.
The other is the Scottish Democratic Alliance, whose name I remember only because a certain sort of separatist would continually mention below the line of the old Tory Hoose site about how being unionist was cutting the Tories off from a great electoral coalition on the separatist centre-right, which would surely be tapped by the SDA once it started contesting elections. Present evidence is not promising.
Eadie was one of the few MSPs to have sat in the Scottish Parliament since its inception in 1999, and held Cowdenbeath and its predecessor seats throughout that time. Thus this looks like a fairly safe seat and has not yet produced the usual frenzy of speculation, at least that I can find. Nonetheless, the Labour and Nationalist performances will doubtless be picked over for possible ramifications for the referendum and 2016 elections.
Of less interest to the Scottish media, but likely more interest to readers here, will be the performances of the Conservatives and UKIP, what we might call the traditional, unionist centre-right. Excellent left-wing Labour blogger Ian S Smart, a man who has no reason to imagine such a pattern through wishful thinking, suggested before the last Scottish Parliament by-election that the Scottish Conservative vote might be starting to toughen up, as the necessities of the independence referendum opened a gulf between the Nationalists and the Tartan Tory portion of their base.
Before it started showing up in the polls (if indeed it is), I’ve been arguing that the referendum is an ideal wedge issue for the Scottish Conservatives for years. As Ian sets out, it both reminds our former voters that the SNP do stand for the dissolution of the United Kingdom and her institutions whilst also forcing the nationalists to chase left-wing voters (much to the discomfort of right-wing ones), not to mention publicly allying with the ‘radicals’ in the Scottish Socialists and the Greens.