End selective internment

Pressure is growing for other internees at Maghaberry jail to be released following the decision to free critically ill Brendan Lillis from his internment last week.

Mr Lillis, who is currently being treated in a Belfast hospital, is back on his original prison release licence after the Parole Commissioners responded positively to an international human rights campaign on his behalf.

Amid a strong welcome for his release, there are now hopes that other former political prisoners, whose licences were also summarily revoked by the British government in recent years, could follow in his wake.

Wednesday marked the 100th day of the incarceration of Marian Price, who is still being held at Maghaberry.

A former hunger striker who was force-fed over 400 times by a vindictive English prison regime, the 57-year-old former IRA figure is interned at the notorious all-male prison. She is being made to endure the same violent strip-search regime as the other prisoners.

Last year, another former Provisional IRA Volunteer, Lurgan man Martin Corey, had his release licence suddenly revoked and found himself thrown back inside a British jail. Both of these campaigns are now gaining international support.

Pressure is also building for the release of republicans apparently excluded from the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, such as Gerry McGeough, and others who have been held for years without bail, such as Colin Duffy.

Meanwhile, hundreds of other former political prisoners live in fear that they could face the prospect of a return to Maghaberry if they engage in any kind of political activity, or are seen to oppose the current Six-County regime at Stormont in any form.

For former PoWs, the threat of being forced to once again endure a vindictive British prison regime is terrifying. John Brady, a former political prisoner who faced the sudden revocation of his release licence, was found dead at PSNI Strand Road police station in October 2009, an apparent suicide victim.

Following their success in liberating Brendan Lillis from his brutal and vindictive imprisonment at Maghaberry, ending the internment of republicans -- in all its various guises -- has become a focus of that campaign.

Brendan’s partner, Roisin Lynch said the “nightmare is over” for Brendan and herself, but pleaded for people to unite behind the other prison campaigns.

She dismissed suggestions this week by unionist hardliners in the wake of his release that her chronically ill partner should be returned to Maghaberry once again. “BL [Brendan] is too ill for jail,” she pointed out.

But she warned others would continue to be subjected to brutality at Maghaberry and said she would work to highlight their plight, and also to bring an end to selective internment.

“While BL is free, the campaign is far from over,” she said. “I hope it has rekindled hope and desire within the grassroots to work as one.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News