Judge backs Hegarty internment

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A community association in Derry have called for the immediate release of republican Neil Hegarty, who was interned in Maghaberry prison in December just one day after he had been released after five years in prison.

The PSNI police claimed that Mr Hegarty, who is from the Creggan area of Derry, had refused to comply with tagging regulations.

Mr Hegarty has now been back in jail for almost two months, and his lawyers challenged the decision to revoke his licence in the High Court this week. But despite expressed concerns about the PSNI documentation, the judge ruled the decision was “lawful”. Mr Hegarty’s lawyers said they will appeal.

A spokesperson for the Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership said it was concerned that the “threshold for judicial intervention had not been met”.

It also said the detention of another republican activist, Tony Taylor, should be challenged. Mr Taylor has now been interned for over 700 days.

“We believe that the Neil Hegarty case and that of Tony Taylor suggest an abuse of power and should be strongly challenged by local politicians and civic society as a whole,” they said.

“We call upon the Human Rights Commission and other civil liberty groups to query the case of republican prisoners due for release after the completion of their prison sentences for political offences. We believe both individuals should be released immediately.”

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association has described the decision to keep Mr Hegarty in jail as “devastating”.

Patrick Gallagher of the republican party Saoradh said Mr Hegarty’s argument had been ‘shockingly dismissed’.

He said: “Neil will now appeal and fight on. We in Saoradh and IRPWA Doire based at Junior McDaid House will stand shoulder to shoulder with Neil and his family.

“Contrary to some media reports Neil did not refuse his licence or any aspect of his release. He quite rightly, and this was proved in full transparency, merely questioned his release conditions as he knew he would fight these draconian measures in court.

“We call for an end to British Internment. We call for the immediate release of Neil Hegarty.”

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