Calls for Derry republican Tony Taylor’s immediate release reissued ahead of parole hearing due today

Tony Taylor with his Lorraine and, son Bliain and daughters Nicole and Ellie-Jo.

Tony Taylor with his Lorraine and, son Bliain and daughters Nicole and Ellie-Jo.

Sinn Féin’s National Chairperson, Declan Kearney, has called for the immediate release of Derry republican Tony Taylor ahead of his latest parole hearing later today.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, Mr. Kearney, who is 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 Féin 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.”

People Before Profit Foyle Westminster election candidate Shaun Harkin also called for the Derry 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. Tony has a parole hearing today. 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.”

The decision to revoke Mr. Taylor’s licence last year was based on what his family and supporters describe as an untested risk assessment by the security services. The Derry man served part of an 18 year jail sentence after he was seriously injured in a premature mortar explosion in Derry in 1994. He was released as part of the Good Friday Agreement. He spent a further period in jail for possession of a rifle in 2011 but was released in 2014.

Mr. Taylor was a leading member of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) in the city. At Easter the RNU signalled it was actively contemplating a shift in strategy.

Speaking at a Na Fianna Éireann commemoration in Belfast former republican prisoner Gary McNally said: “We recognise that we must move forward with our people, not without them and not ahead of them or eventually they will move forward without us. For too long Irish republicans have remained on their knees, constrained by an inability to modernise and accept the situation on the ground.”