Belfast Telegraph

Secretary of State refuses to meet Derry councillors to discuss jailed dissident republican

By Peter Hutcheon, Local Democracy Reporter

Secretary of State Karen Bradley says it would be inappropriate for her to meet with Derry City and Strabane District Council to discuss the Tony Taylor case.

In a letter dated May 16, but not received by the council's chief executive until Wednesday, May 29, the Secretary of State said the matter was in the hands of the parole commissioners and therefore it would be inappropriate for her to agree to a meeting.

Tony Taylor was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1994 after he was injured in a premature explosion in Londonderry.

He released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement but was arrested again in 2011.

In her letter to the council, Ms Braldey wrote: "Mr Taylor pleaded guilty to serious charges and he was sentenced to eight years, three in custody and five on license, which was revoked.

"The Parole Commission must reflect on the risk the individual poses to the public.

"I have no power to overturn this decision and it would be inappropriate to comment further and inappropriate to have a meeting at this time."

 As the letter had only arrived a day before Thursday's full meeting of the council, it was not distributed, but read out at the meeting by Mr Kelpie.

Independent councillor Paul Gallagher said it was a disgrace that the Secretary of State was not prepared to meet the council.

"This is the only elected body in this area," he said. "People in this city need to be asking questions why she is not prepared to meet us."

SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said: "Why is he not being told what he did to have his licence revoked?

"That is what his family wants to know."

Sinn Fein group leader on the council Sandra Duffy added: "Our MP Elisha McCallion has raised this with the Secretary of State and with the British Prime Minister.

"We as a council need to be taking a lead on this.

"One of our citizens is in prison and he does not know why he is in prison."

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