Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brenda Lillis, Maghaberry Jail 600 days on sick bed

The partner of a Maghaberry inmate is to take part in a three-day hunger strike, over the conditions in which Brendan Lillis - who suffers from arthritis - is being held.

The 59 year-old has spent 600 days lying in a bed in Maghaberry's hospital.

The west Belfast man was charged in connection with an attempted tiger robbery in 2009 but earlier this year, the authorities said he was too ill to stand trial.

However, because of legal loophole, he is still in prison.

In the 1970s, he served a 17 year sentence on explosives charges but because his licence was revoked when he was re-arrested two years ago, he is esentially in prison now for a crime he committed in 1976.

His partner, Roisin Allsopp, has been campaigning for his release.

"The charges against my partner were shelved last February.

"He is now coming to the end of his second year in jail. There are no charges against him at the minute.

"He is not a danger to anybody," she told The Irish OBSERVER.

"If they wanted their pound of flesh, I can tell you, they've got it."

Roisin, along with former Republican hunger strikers, will begin their protest on Thursday.

A preliminary hearing is being held by the Parole Commissioners to decide if he should be released.

In a statement, the NI Prison Service said it and its health care partners - the South Eastern Trust - have made 'strenuous efforts to ensure Mr Lillis's full health care needs have been and are continuing to be met in a satisfactory manner.'

The statement continued: "Given the current circumstances there are not sufficient and exceptional grounds to justify his release on compassionate grounds."