Tuesday 22 May 2018

Coveney dismisses claim over prisoner

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shona Murray

A spokesperson for Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has rejected as "total nonsense" claims by a Unionist newspaper, 'The Newsletter', that he was intervening in the case of a Provisional IRA prisoner.

The prisoner, Tony Taylor, was initially sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1994 after he was seriously injured in a premature explosion in Co Derry.

He was released under the Good Friday Agreement, but was then sentenced to three years for possession of a rifle in an unprecedented case where surveillance evidence produced in court was gathered using a drone.

In 2016 he was returned to Maghaberry Prison on the instructions of the then Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

His licence was revoked because of the risk he posed to the public.

He had not been charged with or convicted of any new offence.

Mr Coveney said that he intended to write to the Secretary of State Karen Bradley voicing his concerns about Taylor's ongoing detention "without being charged with or convicted of any new offence".

"I am also aware that there is a level of concern in the nationalist and republican community in Northern Ireland about the basis for and nature of Mr Taylor's ongoing detention," he added.

The newspaper said that his Dáil comments triggered an "outpouring of condemnation" which add to "community tensions in an unwelcome way".

Irish Independent

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