Noel Maguire – Bring him home
Noel Maguire was moved to Maghaberry Prison in Lisburn in November 2009.
The brutality of the British penal system coupled with the apathy of the
Irish government towards the welfare of its own citizens is again in
evidence with the case of Noel Maguire.
Noel Maguire is the only remaining Irish political prisoner incarcerated in
an English jail. The 38-year-old Fermanagh man was controversially
sentenced, on highly questionable evidence, to 22 years imprisonment for his
alleged role in a republican bombing campaign in Britain between 2000 and
Noel’s plight is currently the focus of a campaign demanding his transfer
from Full Sutton prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence in the
country of his birth.
Under European law, prisoners convicted in a jurisdiction other than their
own have a right to serve their sentence in their country of origin.
Noel holds a valid Irish passport and is entitled to full citizenship
rights, including that of being in accessible proximity to his family. He
has not seen his two young children in the six-years since his ordeal began
and his family are under incredible strain.
Noel’s physical and mental health are under constant threat whilst he
remains in Full Sutton – he was recently subjected to an assault of such
severity that it warranted a charge of attempted murder against the alleged
culprits. At present, he is being held in an isolation unit.
The struggle of Irish republican prisoners for transfer from English
prisons has a long and tragic history. Both Michael Gaughan (1974) and Frank
Stagg (1976) died while hunger-striking in support of that right.
In more recent times, Paddy Kelly was only transferred from England to
Portlaoise when he was in the advanced stages of a terminal illness. Paddy
suffered horrendous treatment in British jails and was denied access to a
doctor capable of treating his skin cancer for more than two years.
Noel’s wife and children live less then one hour from Portlaoise prison, Co
Laois, and he has a network of friends and relations across the country.
Noel’s co-accused Aiden Hulme was recently repatriated to Portlaoise
following a lengthy campaign.
The London and Dublin governments are under a clear obligation to comply
with international law in the case of Noel and the process of transfer
should begin immediately.
To do anything less is to put the life of yet another Irish political
prisoner in unacceptable danger and yet another Irish family through
constant hardship and misery.
The following is a statement by Noel Maguire:
“Friends and comrades, a chairde,
As many of you know already, my latest application for repatriation, to
serve the remaining years of my sentence in the country of my birth, has
been once again refused by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law
“I am at a loss as to why the Dept. continues to refuse me my rights. Under
the European Convention on the rights of prisoners to serve their sentence
in country of origin, I qualify on all counts.
“My wife and two young children live within an hours journey of Portlaoise
and Mountjoy Prisons, and my brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts all live
within visiting distance. I have no relatives in Britain and I have not seen
my children for six years.
“I have received numerous communications from the Dept. of Justice – and the
Irish embassy here – but at no time ever have I been given a clear-cut
satisfactory explanation for my applications being refused. Furthermore, I
am now informed that I cannot apply again until January 2008. This is
contrary to the legislation agreed by all EU member states – that a prisoner
can at any time apply for repatriation to country of origin.
“I am an Irish citizen, hold a valid Irish passport, and to all intents and
purposes I qualify for repatriation within law. My co-accused have all been
repatriated and I believe my continued detention here is victimisation – if
“I appreciate all that is being done for me outside these walls by good
comrades and friends at home and abroad who believe my incarceration is a
travesty of justice.
“Your campaign has my total support – and my thanks.”
HMP Full Sutton,