Brendan Lillis – A Humanitarian Issue
May 5, 2011
“Trying To Save Brendan’s Life”
Brendan Lillis, a 59 year old prisoner from West Belfast is currently desperately ill in the medical wing of the notorious Maghaberry prison in County Antrim. He suffers from the intensely painful and progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has seen him unable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (38.1 Kilos !). Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids for a period close to a month and is constant agony. In short, his health has deteriorated to such an extent that his partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed!
Mr Lillis was an Irish Republican political prisoner who had been released on license but unfortunately was arrested for an attempted robbery over a year ago. Despite being judged unfit to stand trial due to his desperate medical condition, Mr Lillis is still being held in Maghaberry prison ‘on license’ due to his previous conviction for political charges and is in a Catch 22 situation where he can be held indefinitely at the ‘pleasure’ of the British ‘Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Owen Patterson, M.P. With the ‘Secretary of State’ having the power to release Mr Lillis, only public pressure will convince him to allow this prisoner out of prison to receive the medical treatment he so badly needs and to spend his remaining days with his family in a non-prison environment.
Mr Lillis’ case is a purely humanitarian issue but it is complicated by his political antecedents. Ankylosing Spondylitis, the condition that Mr Lillis suffers from is an intensely painful condition that begins with a curvature of the spine and it has now got to the stage where he is in extreme pain 24 hours a day with little relief and sub-standard medical care. TheMaghaberry prison ‘hospital’ is little more than a ‘sick-bay’ which is guarded by Unionist prison warders who would be antagonistic to Mr Lillis due to his Irish Republican past.
Roisin, Mr Lillis’ partner, is understandably beside herself with anxiety and is desperately looking for help with her fledgling campaign to have Brendan treated with dignity:
“I am trying my best to highlight this but sadly I’m working alone and don’t have much experience this area but im trying my best……For the 1st 10 weeks he had no visits because he couldn’t get into a wheelchair and they wouldn’t let me into the jail, after a lot of debates with the jail i was eventually allowed to visit him in his cell which i have done since then. as you all no Brendan is now in a precarious situation and if he doesn’t get released from jail i am in no doubts he will die soon.“
Mr Lillis’ case should be a concern for everyone on humanitarian grounds alone and it would appear that only public pressure will make the Secretary of State notice the plight of a seriously ill 59 year old man inMaghaberry prison who is in constant pain and whose weight has plummeted to a dangerous 6 stone.
Please sign the petition because he is now on a heart machine and needs real hospital care: www.petitionspot.com/petitions/releaseBrendylilli