The wife of Derry republican, Tony Taylor, has said her husband is being held as a ‘political hostage’ and ‘as a mother to a mother’ has asked Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, to release the father-of-three.
Lorraine Taylor issued the intervention plea as the Derry man completed a 900th day in Maghaberry last weekend.
“It appears that my husband, Tony Taylor, who has been in detention now for 900 days without any reason, in reality is being used as a political hostage by the British Secretary of State, Karen Bradley,” she blasted.
Mrs. Taylor said Mrs. Bradley’s attendance at the ‘World Meeting of Families’ in Dublin did not accord with her office’s treatment of the Taylor family over the past two-and-a-half years.
“The British Secretary of State has been in Dublin to meet Pope Francis to celebrate the importance of family life.
“My simple question to her is how can she square this meeting with the Pope and deny access to his family?” she asked.
Mr. Taylor was jailed for 18 years after being blown-up in a botched IRA mortar attack in 1994, but was subsequently released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).
The former Republican Network for Unity (RNU) spokesman received a further three-years jail term for possesion of a rifle in 2011, but was released with time served in 2014.
The controversy over Mr. Taylor’s ongoing detention stems from the summary revocation by former Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, of his release licence in 2016, based on ‘intelligence’ provided by the security services, which critics have branded ‘political.’
Mrs. Taylor, speaking after a rally at Free Derry Corner on Sunday to mark Mr. Taylor’s 900th day in prison, made a direct plea for the N.I. Secretary of State to intervene.
“Tony has now been held in jail without charge since March 2016, after his parole licence was revoked by a previous British Secretary of State.
“I now ask Karen Bradley to use her authority as the current Secretary of State, as a woman and a mother, to send Tony home to his family.
“She should also hear the voices of the high profile political, church, trade union and community leaders, along with the many northern and southern district councils and senior representatives of the Irish Government who are supporting the call for Tony’s release,” she added.
The mother-of-three said Mr. Taylor’s continued incarceration wastaking its toll on both his children and his parents.
“Tony, prior to his internment without trial. was the primary carer for his elderly parents who are both ill and who have been unable to visit him for more than a year.
“Tony himself has chronic health problems. Furthermore our son, Bliain, is severely disabled and is heavily dependent on his father.
“I firmly believe that Tony’s continued detention is unlawful, unduly punitive and discriminatory and his legal team have argued the refusal to release him is as unlawful as it is contrary to the Human Rights Act (1998).
“A final word to Karen Bradley, as a mother to a mother - can you now exercise your conscience, intervene and use your authority as Secretary of State to request that my husband be released on humanitarian grounds back to his family.
Failure to do so will make your visit to meet the Pope and celebrate the importance of family just a political pretence,” she stated.
A spokesperson for the NIO, while refusing to comment on Mr. Taylor’s case, said licence revocations were a matter for the Parole Commissioners rather than the Secretary of State.
“The law states it is for the independent Parole Commissioners to set a timetable for case reviews, not the Secretary of State.
“Parole Commissioner cases must comply with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees a right to a fair trial. The law also states of Parole Commissioners cases that information about proceedings or people involved in them should not be made public. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment on specific cases,” the NIO said.