Irish Republican News · June 27, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Pressure mounts for release of Brendan Lillis

A meeting next month of the Parole Commission (formerly the Life Sentence Review Commission) has raised hopes for the family and supporters of former political prisoner Brendan Lillis, who is gravely ill at Maghaberry Prison.

The Commission (and the then British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward) were responsible for returning Mr Lillis to jail. The Commission ruled that his release licence should be revoked as he had become “a danger to the public”.

Mr Lillis suffers from a progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has left him unable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (84 pounds/38 kilograms).

Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids and is constant agony. His condition continues to decline.

His partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed.


Brendan Lillis’s family and supporters have organised a petition, letter-writing and online campaign to secure his immediate release.

The Facebook campaign group is located at:

The petition is located at:


Meanwhile, a 49-year-old Derry remand prisoner has been found dead amid a continuing deterioration in conditions at Maghaberry, the North’s most controversial jail.

Patrick Duffy from Nassau Street in Derry was facing criminal damage and assault charges when he was found dead in his cell, an apparent suicide victim.

News of the the death, the most recent of its kind, emerged as the North’s prisoner ombudsman Pauline McCabe published a report which said the prison system in the Six Counties is “not fit for purpose”.

She pointed to the long periods of time prisoners were held in their cells in Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood prisons.

“The single biggest issue, and the issue which has caused me most concern, is the significant number of lockdowns and periods of restricted regime that prisoners have experienced,” she said.

“The way Northern Ireland’s prisons are run continues to be affected by its historical legacy and decades of conflict,” Ms McCabe said.

“There are fundamental issues to be faced, addressed and overcome before we have a service which is fit for purpose.”


Also this week, the family of a republican prisoner at Maghaberry, Gerard McManus, have complained that a scheduled visit began late and was terminated after half an hour by a warder who was drunk and abusive.

The guard, referring to the prisoner and their family, said that “he wished there were still soldiers like [sectarian serial killers] the Shankill Butchers to take care of people like them”, according to the McManus family.

The riot squad was then called to remove the family from the visiting area and return Mr McManus to his cell. A prison official later declined to register a complaint by the prisoner’s elderly father.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News