Republican prisoner Brendan Lillis released from Belfast prison on compassionate grounds

Republic prisoner Brendan Lillis has finally been freed on compassionate grounds from a Belfast prison.

The 57-year-old is now at the City Hospital receiving treatment for the chronic arthritis form Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Lillis has spent the last 18 months confined to bed in his cell and faces up to a year receiving treatment in hospital.

Originally sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 on explosive charges, Lillis was freed on licence in 1993. His release was revoked in 2009 after he was arrested on robbery charges.

A campaign by his family to free Lillis on compassionate grounds was backed by the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

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“I am feeling very weak, I only heard about the release first thing on Friday morning,” said Lillis from the City Hospital in Belfast.

Those who campaigned for his release have welcomed the decision by the North’s parole commissioners.

“We are thrilled that Brendan was released this morning, at last we can look forward to getting him home and caring for him,” said his partner Roisin Lynch.

“Brendan is in chronic pain and he is no threat to society. He is not going to make any miraculous recovery now that he has been released from prison.”