Following approaches from friends and family of Mr Brendan Lillis, a prisoner in Maghaberry prison, who is close to death, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin, Paul Murphy, is appealing to Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Mr David Ford, to intervene with a view to allowing Mr Lillis to spend his last weeks at home on humanitarian grounds.
Mr Lillis was a former republican prisoner who was released in 1993 but who’s licence was revoked in 2009. However, the judge who was to hear the charges relating to the incident which led to the revoking of Mr Lillis’ licence, determined that he was too ill to stand trial for those charges.
Mr Lillis is currently being held in Maghaberry Prison and has been confined to his bed for nearly two years as a result of a severely debilitating medical condition called ankylosing spondylitis. The worsening of Mr Lillis’ condition has made it very difficult for him to eat, causing his weight to drop to five stone and he has now been diagnosed with anorexia. Reportedly, Mr Lillis’ doctors now believe he has only weeks to live.
The decision by the Parole Commissioners to refuse to release Mr Lillis appears to be based on their belief that Mr Lillis still poses “a danger to the public.” This is manifestly not the case given Mr Lillis’ severe medical condition. I again appeal that, on humanitarian grounds, Mr Lillis should be released so as to spend his remaining time with his close family.