Free Tony Taylor campaigners renew calls for Derry republican’s release a year after licence revoked

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.

Renewed calls have been issued for the release of Derry republican, Tony Taylor, who has now spent a year in jail after having his licence revoked by the former Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

Supporters staged a white line protest outside Strand Road PSNI station this afternoon, complaining there have been “no charges, no trial and no justice” for the Derry man.

Mr. Taylor was jailed for 18 years after being blown up in a premature mortar explosion in Derry in 1994 but was released after the Good Friday Agreement.

The 49-year-old was sentenced to a further three years in jail for possession of a rifle in 2011.

He was released in 2014 shortly after sentence, time already having been served.

But last year Mr. Taylor was arrested whilst out shopping with his family and returned to jail, his licence having been summarily revoked on the say-so of the Secretary of State.

Campaigners have blasted his continued imprisonment as political, extrajudicial and a denial of due process,

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, himself a former republican prisoner, said: “On the first anniversary of his incarceration I repeat Sinn Féin’s call for the release of Derry man Tony Taylor. Tony was sent to prison on the word of the James Brokenshire’s predecessor without bringing forward any evidence.

“In October past Martin McGuinness raised this directly with James Brokenshire and told him the continued detention of Tony Taylor is unacceptable and made it clear that, in the absence of due process, he should be released immediately.”

Eamonn McCann has also called for Mr. Taylor’s release.

“This weekend marks the first anniversary of the detention of Tony Taylor without charge or trial at the behest of then NIO Minister Theresa Villiers. We renew our call for his immediate release. All who oppose arbitrary imprisonment should stand with the Taylor family.

“The secrecy surrounding the reason for Tony’s detention casts a dark shadow on the NIO’s claims in the current talks to want the victims of the Troubles given the truth.

“Tony Taylor was released from Long Kesh under the Good Friday Agreement. He had been serving 18 years after being seriously injured in a Provisional IRA premature bomb explosion. Since then, he has been living openly at home in Derry.

“But his licence was revoked in March last year on the say-so of Ms. Villiers. She maintained that he ‘posed a risk to the public’. The information against him, she said, had come from ‘the security service’ and could not be divulged on ground of ‘national security’.”

Mr. McCann went on to ask: “How can anyone take seriously the NIO’s insistence that it wants ‘legacy’ issues dealt with and the families given the truth when the same NIO is currently refusing point-blank to give Lorraine Taylor even a sliver of truth about why her husband has been in a cell at Maghaberry for the last 12 months?”