The families of two Derry republicans who died as a result of medical conditions while in prison have called for Brendan Lillis to be released from Maghaberry.
Mr Lillis was released on licence in 1992 but was returned to prison in 2009 after his licence was revoked by the Secretary of State. His family have said that he now weighs less than six stones and that he is near death.
The families of Derry IRA men Pól Kinsella and James Moyne have added their voices to the campaign for the release of Mr Lillis.
Mr Kinsella died from leukaemia in Long Kesh in 1994 and Mr Moyne died in the same prison in January 1974 while waiting for medical treatment.
Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ the family of the late Pól Kinsella said: “Our family know at first hand the heartache of losing a loved one whilst being imprisoned.
“It was whilst imprisoned in 1994 that Pól was to find out that he had leukaemia. The British establishment at that time refused to release him despite it being clear he was very seriously ill or the fact that the IRA had already declared a military cessation. Pól died at the young age of 31 on the 13th December of that year.
“We felt it was important to echo calls made this week for the immediate release of Brendan Lillis on humanitarian grounds and to ensure that prisoners’ rights are protected.”
The brothers and sister of the late James Moyne also called for the release of the critically ill prisoner.
“We the family of Vol. James Moyne call for the immediate release of Brendan Lillis from Maghaberry Gaol.
“We believe that it is only right that Brendan Lillis, a seriously ill prisoner, be given the chance to receive the medical treatment he so badly needs and to spend his remaining days with his family. It has been 36 years since the death of our brother Jim, a victim of this same form of state violence.
“It saddens and disturbs us greatly that conditions continue to exist whereby Irish people can be subject to arbitrary detention and suffer medical neglect while in gaol,” he said.
Local MLAs have also called for the release of the ill prisoner.