More applications for jail release expected after remission decision

Succession of applications expected before High Court

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan: ordered the immediate release from Portlaoise Prison of “self-acknowledged IRA prisoner” Niall Farrell, on the grounds he had not been given proper consideration by the prison authorities for a one-third remission of sentence. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan: ordered the immediate release from Portlaoise Prison of “self-acknowledged IRA prisoner” Niall Farrell, on the grounds he had not been given proper consideration by the prison authorities for a one-third remission of sentence. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 01:00

Lawyers representing prisoners in jail are studying the implications of rulings this week by High Court judges regarding remission of sentences. It is expected more applications will be made in coming days for early release of some prisoners.

In one case Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ordered the immediate release, from Portlaoise Prison of “self-acknowledged IRA prisoner” Niall Farrell, on the grounds he had not been given proper consideration by the prison authorities for a one-third remission of sentence.

Another prisoner, in Mountjoy Prison, who had sought release in front of Mr Justice Michael Peart, was found not to be in unlawful custody and is still in jail. The judge suggested prison rules should be revised to provide clarity regarding applications for additional remission of sentences.

Mr Justice Hogan said Farrell’s successful application was based on an entitlement to enhanced remission of a third of his sentence where under Rule 59 (2) of the prison rules he had been of good conduct and had engaged in authorised, structured activities to prepare him for release and reintegration into society and lead to his being less likely to reoffend.

He had been sentenced by the Special Criminal Court in December 2011 to five years for membership of an illegal organisation and it was only fair to say he had been of exemplary conduct since.

The judge said Farrell had spent his sentence on the E2 landing of Portlaoise Prison, on which all prisoners were self-acknowledged members of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army. He had completed a series of courses in prison, including courses on art and design, leatherwork and first aid; and had honoured three temporary releases.

“On the basis he ought to have been released on 1st April 2014 it follows he is currently in unlawful custody and I must direct his immediate release,” Mr Justice Hogan said.

A succession of applications for release based on enhanced remission is expected to continue appearing before the High Court for some time.