Free Tony Taylor

Sean Egan writes: In March 2016, leading republican activist Tony Taylor had his licence revoked and was remanded in Maghaberry prison, a facility notorious for  human rights abuses including violent searches and prolonged solitary confinement. 

Socialist Worker

Free Tony Taylor

Taylor had been convicted of a firearms offense in 2011 but had received parole. To this day, no justification for the revocation of his parole has been given. As this goes to print Taylor will have spent more than 550 days interned without facing any charges or evidence.

 In his native Derry, a campaign for his freedom has recieved support across the spectrum of nationalist and left-wing politics including People Before Profit whose local candidate Shaun Harkin said: ‘This is a straightforward matter of defending civil liberties. No government should have the right to simply lock away anyone it chooses.’

 The revocation of parole is a tactic that’s been consistently used against high-profile activists like Marian Price and Brendan Lilis. 

It  represents the same level of overreach as  the charges levied against the Jobstown defendants in the south and has the same aims: to punish rebels and disable them as activists , to criminalise protest and to deter future resistance.  

The Free Tony Taylor campaign has held a large demonstration in Derry and held solidarity vigils throughout the country. Lorraine Taylor, Tony’s wife, addressed Belfast’s annual anti-internment march. However, outside  Derry these actions have been largely limited to anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans. To effectively challenge state repression, we must see it as an issue not just for militant republicans but for all individuals and organisations that defend democracy and civil liberties. 

The tools used against republicans today will be used against socialists tomorrow. We need to campaign to free all political prisoners present and future.

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