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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

Seriously ill former IRA man begs for prison release

Brendan Lillis’ condition at Maghaberry Prison has been described as ‘shocking’. He suffers from a debilitating form of arthritis.

File photo of the front gates of Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in Co. Antrim
File photo of the front gates of Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in Co. Antrim
Image: Matthew Fearn/PA Archive/Press Association Image

A 59-YEAR-OLD man who is confined to a prison bed due to a severe medical condition has begged to be allowed to go home.

Brendan Lillis, a former member of the IRA, was sentenced to life in prison in 1977 on explosives charges, and was released in 1993. He was returned to Maghaberry Prison in 2009  on charges relating to a robbery and kidnapping, reports the BBC.

Lillis suffers from a debilitating form of arthritis and has been declared unfit to stand trial. Last October he complied with a court appearance via video link from his bed. He pleaded not guilty to charges relating to a tiger kidnapping, according to a BBC report at the time.

The Belfast Telegraph details how he was denied parole on compassionate grounds last week, and now his partner is to meet with the North’s justice minister to plead for his release.

A reporter from the Irish News (print edition) has visited Maghaberry Prison in order to provide an account of Lillis’ condition, amid conflicting reports about his health. The Department of Justice has deemed his condition to be non life-threatening.

Allison Morris from the Irish News has described Lillis’ condition as ‘shocking’. She details how he has been lying in the same position for months, and that his bed is soiled as is causes him too much pain to be moved.

He’s been diagnosed as anorexic and has the body mass index of a boy of 11 or 12.

His partner Róisín Lynch is meeting justice minister David Ford today to beg for his release. Lillis himself has said:

I don’t want to die in here like this. I just want to see my family.

The North’s deputy first minister  Martin McGuinness has said that Lillis should be released and that “does not present a threat to anyone”.

Read more of Allison Morris’ account in today’s Irish News (print edition)>

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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