Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (59)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

58 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 102 on 22 May, if he has had any further contact with officials in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State, the Minister for Justice and the prison authorities, in relation to the human rights issues of prisoners being held in prison in Northern Ireland, particularly Maghaberry Prison and the case of the prisoner who had been moved to Hydebank Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35852/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I have discussed this case with the Secretary of State on a number of occasions, most recently last week when we reviewed a number of issues. I have been assured that the process which has led to the prisoner's detention fully adhered to the law and that advice was sought from an independent body to verify that this action was pursued in a correct manner. The NIO has confirmed that a Royal Prerogative of Mercy was given to the prisoner on 30 April 1980 but that this pardon was only granted in respect of a sentence of twenty years for conspiracy to cause an explosion and was not granted in relation to the sentence of two terms of life imprisonment related to the Old Bailey bombing. On 22 February this contention was upheld by the Parole Commission which ruled that the prisoner is subject to life license in respect to the two life sentences. I understand that the prisoner's legal representatives are currently exploring the further legal avenues available to the prisoner to appeal this decision.

I have also raised concerns surrounding the health of the prisoner with the relevant authorities. The prisoner has been moved to the medical wing of Hydebank Prison and more recently to hospital for medical treatment. My officials are in regular contact with the authorities in Northern Ireland, relevant MLAs, human rights NGOs and others closely following this case. I will continue to raise my concern as appropriate with the relevant authorities.