Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Jail hospital ‘can cater for Lillis’

Medical chiefs have told the Health Minister they are “confident” republican prisoner Brendan Lillis can be provided with appropriate health care in Maghaberry Prison as pressure continues to mount on the Justice Minister to decide his fate.



Health Minister Edwin Poots has been briefed by the South Eastern Health Trust, which is |responsible for the provision of healthcare services within |all Northern Ireland’s prisons, about the level of care available to the seriously ill convicted IRA bomber both inside and outside prison.

The trust’s conclusions that he would receive the same level of treatment for his debilitating arthritic disease within the high security jail as he would in an outside hospital, will likely be taken into account by Justice Minister David Ford.

Mr Ford is under increasing pressure from Lillis’s supporters, who include Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey to overturn a parole commissioners’ ruling that he was not suitable for release on compassionate grounds.

They have argued the west Belfast man is close to death and cannot receive proper care within the jail.

Sentence Review Commissioners are due to meet today to review the case.

The former life sentence prisoner, who was returned to prison in 2009 after his release licence was revoked when he was arrested for robbery, is said to have been confined to a bed in Maghaberry Prison for over 600 days suffering from Ankylosing spondylitis, which causes the bones in the spine to fuse.

His weight is reported to have plummeted to less than six stone while he has been in prison.

Background

The parole commissioners recently ruled that republican prisoner Brendan Lillis, who is seriously ill with a debilitating arthritic condition, was not suitable for release on compassionate grounds. His family and supporters say he could die in jail and are pressurising the Justice Minister to free him.

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