Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Lillis campaigners in 'sack David Ford' call

By Deborah McAleese

Supporters of gravely ill republican prisoner Brendan Lillis have called for the Justice Minister to be removed from office over his refusal to release the former IRA bomber on compassionate grounds.

David Ford has said he had been advised there were not sufficient grounds to free Lillis, who is suffering from a debilitating arthritic disease that causes the bones in his spine to fuse.

Mr Ford said that he had reassurances from medical staff at Maghaberry that Lillis was receiving adequate care in the prison hospital.

A group campaigning for Lillis's release said yesterday it no longer had confidence in Mr Ford as Justice Minister.

Lillis is a former life sentence prisoner who was returned to jail in 2009 after his licence was revoked when he was arrested in connection with a tiger kidnapping. He has never been convicted of the crime because he was deemed too unfit to stand trial because of his ill-health.

He is said to have been confined to his bed in Maghaberry Prison for more than 600 days, with his weight plummeting to under six stone.

His partner Roisin Lynch has said she fears he will die in prison.

On Wednesday a delegation of Lillis's supporters, including Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives, presented the minister with an independent medical report - carried out by a consultant psychiatrist from the Irish United Nations Association - that expressed concerns he would die in prison due to the condition he is suffering.

However, Mr Ford said that the advice he is being given does not suggest that Lillis would receive better treatment in an outside hospital.

Background

Last week the parole commissioners ruled that republican prisoner Brendan Lillis, who is seriously ill in Maghaberry jail, 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 fee him.

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