New effort to release interned RNU activist


The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement said they have concerns about the detention without trial of republican Tony Taylor in Maghaberry jail.

The spokesperson for the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) had been released as part of the Good Friday Agreement, but his release was revoked based on what was described as “an untested risk assessment” by the British Crown forces. He was interned in March last year at the request of British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers.

After a series of delayed parole hearings, his case has again been put back, this time until May 30th. A judgement is expected a week after that.

The Dublin parliamentary committee on the 1998 peace deal met his family recently to discuss his plight.

“The committee will be writing to the British Direct Ruler James Brokesnhire to request a meeting as soon as possible, said committee chair, Kathleen Funchion, Sinn Fein TD for Carlow-Kilkenny.

Ms Funchion added: “The Committee wishes to express its concern at the nature of the arrest and imprisonment of Mr Taylor and his continued detention without trial.”

Sinn Fein’s National Chairperson, Declan Kearney, has also called for the immediate release of the Derry republican.

Speaking ahead of the cancelled hearing, Mr Kearney, who had been due to attend, said: “Tony Taylor was arrested in March 2016 and jailed in Maghaberry Prison on the word of the British Secretary of State.

“In the time since, no charges have been brought nor evidence produced to justify Mr Taylor’s imprisonment.

“In these circumstances Sinn Fein has consistently called for Tony Taylor’s release. I will attend today’s hearing to observe and to restate our view that Mr Taylor’s imprisonment is unjust and brings the justice system into disrepute. Tony Taylor should be released immediately.”

Local People Before Profit Westminster election candidate Shaun Harkin also called for the RNU man’s release.

He said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Republican activist Tony Taylor was locked-up in Maghaberry Prison 420 days ago on the say-so of the former British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.... He should be released immediately

“This is a straightforward matter of defending civil liberties. No government should have the right to simply lock anyone it chooses up.

“You don’t have to agree with Tony’s politics in order to support his immediate release. Internment without trial was wrong then and it is wrong now. They might call it ‘administrative detention’ but it amounts to the same thing. Everyone who opposes internment without trial and who believes in defending civil liberty for all should call for justice to be done and for Tony to be released today.”

Mr Taylor’s wife Lorraine urged people to “keep Tony in your prayers”. She said the past 12 months had been difficult. “We need everybody to come out behind us and show solidarity with Tony and show we are all backing him.”

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