North Belfast republican Terry McCafferty has been released from Maghaberry Prison fifteen months after he was summarily jailed.
McCafferty, from the New Lodge area, was the subject of a strong campaign against what many republicans considered to be a form of internment without trial. He was released on Monday after the sentence review commissioners ruled his detention was illegal.
He had been returned to prison in December 2008 after the British government revoked his parole licence for “associating with known dissidents”.
However, yesterday British Direct Rule security minister Paul Goggins was ordered to release McCafferty from jail after the case against him was ruled “unreliable”.
After a 15-month battle to secure his release, McCafferty’s lawyer was informed on Tuesday night that the sentence review commission had recommended the prisoner’s immediate release.
Welcoming the move, Mr Peirce said: “My client has been held in prison without any valid evidence for the last 15 months.
“He will be considering a civll action against the secretary of state for this illegal detention.”
Mr McCafferty had served out the normal tariff of a sentence for possession of explosives when he was freed in November 2008.
However, he was returned to jail a month later when he was arrested at Belfast International Airport and informed that the British government had ‘revoked his licence’ for associating with undesirables.
McCafferty was not allowed to attend hearings because of “sensitive intelligence material” presented to the commission by the British Crown forces.
The case took a dramatic turn earlier this month when a specially appointed advocate, who functioned as a sort of intermediary to the hearings, announced that he was withdrawing from the case, claiming he was not being allowed to properly represent Mr McCafferty.
Marion Price, a spokeswoman for the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) was one of the people who greeted Mr McCafferty as he left the jail just after 6pm.
In a statement, the IRPWA said it was delighted at the news of Mr McCafferty’s release.
“Terry was returned to British confinement for no other reason than his political beliefs. Attempts by the RUC/PSNI/MI5 to suggest otherwise have foundered even within their own security system which merely confirms the utter spurious nature of his reinternment.
“The IRPWA takes this opportunity to thank most sincerely all those republicans who braved all weather conditions to campaign for this very day. Your efforts have been vindicated. We wish Terry and his family all the best for their future.”