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There's nothing to gain by keeping ill Lillis behind bars

By Liam Clarke

Published 26/08/2011

The DUP's Paul Givan is on firm ground when he calls for the reasons for Brendan Lillis' release by the Parole Commission to be made public.

When a man who is being held because he is allegedly a danger to society is set free, the public deserve to know all the details of the decision-making process. Taxpayers foot the bill and public safety issues are at stake.

This is not an area for privacy, or confidentiality.

Yet, if we did have all the facts, we would probably be satisfied that the rules had been properly applied.

Mr Lillis, whose weight had fallen to five stone and who has difficulty moving much due to an incurable disease, does not pose a risk to the public.

The reasons for returning him to jail to complete a life sentence, of which he had already served 16 years, were that he was believed to have taken part in criminal activity and to pose a danger to the public.

Even if he is guilty of the 'tiger' kidnapping he is accused of, he is now in no position to carry out another one, or harm anyone else.

This is not simply a case of compassion being exercised by the authorities.

Keeping someone in jail is expensive - more than £70,000 a year - and there has to be a point to it.

In Mr Lillis' case, there is no point.

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