DUP ‘unsatisfied’ after Lillis talks (UTV)

DUP members have said they were given no explanation of why parole commissioners decided to release republican prisoner Brendan Lillis, following a meeting on Monday.
Controversy surrounded the Maghaberry prisoner’s detention, due to concerns over his medical condition – prompting a campaign for his release, headed by his partner Roisin Lynch.
But the eventual release from police custody of the 59-year-old, who suffers from arthritic condition ankylosing spondylitis, also caused anger in some quarters.
DUP chair of the justice committee, Paul Givan, requested talks with Chief Commissioner Christine Glenn to ask for a full public explanation of the decision.
“Unfortunately, the legislation prevents them from doing that,” he told UTV after the meeting.
“That’s something I’m going to take up with the Justice Minister, that the legislation needs to be changed to allow the Parole Commission to publicly explain how they base their decisions.”
Meanwhile Health Minister Edwin Poots, who had not been allowed into the meeting, said: “There is no legal reason why they couldn’t have had the meeting with myself.
“I will ask them to have the matter clarified with our solicitors, because I do intent to have the meeting with them.”
A statement released by the Commission said: “Miss Glenn explained that, in accordance with Rule 22 of the Parole Commissioners Rules, she was not at liberty to discuss the case – but she outlined the process which was adhered to during the hearing.
“She also explained that the case had been processed as any other case and that it had not been referred to the commissioners by the minister on compassionate grounds, as had been wrongfully reported by the media.”
It added that Mr Poots was refused access “as he is not part of the justice committee”.
West Belfast man Brendan Lillis was under guard in a Belfast hospital when news broke of his release.
He had previously been cared for in the hospital wing of Maghaberry Prison, where he was on remand having been ruled unfit to stand trial over tiger-kidnapping charges.
His arrest in 2009 over the tiger-kidnapping saw him returned to jail when his licence was revoked – he had previously served 17 years for explosive charges.
When the guards were removed last week and Mr Lillis was freed, his partner told UTV she felt “vindicated” by the decision.
Ms Lynch described the justice system as “very flawed” and said it was “the only logical, humane decision” the Parole Commission could have taken.
The Commission has offered to make a presentation to the justice committee to explain the work of the commissioners.


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