Prisoner clears first stage in battle to be moved to Republican wing

A man charged with trying to kill police officers has cleared the first stage in a High Court battle to be moved to a separated republican prison regime.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 4:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:13 pm

Luke O’Neill, 22, was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision to keep him on remand within the general population at HMP Maghaberry.

He claims the situation has exposed him to sectarian abuse and left him fearing for his life.

O’Neill, of Silverwood Green in Lurgan, is charged with attempting to murder police officers and having explosives.

He was arrested with three other men in September by police investigating alleged dissident republican activity in the area.

Judicial review proceedings were launched after he was denied admission onto the separated landings for republican inmates at Roe House in Maghaberry.

The decision was said to have been based on a perceived threat against him.

O’Neill is currently being held in a part of the jail alongside prisoners from different backgrounds.

He is unable to leave his cell and cannot get proper access to food, according to his lawyers.

Following submissions Mr Justice Maguire ruled the case should proceed to a full hearing.

O’Neill’s solicitor, Gavin Booth of KRW Law, backed the decision to grant leave to proceed to a full hearing in the case.

He said: “Luke O’Neill’s treatment to date by the Maghaberry authorities has been nothing short of scandalous.”

Mr Booth claimed there had been a failure by the authorities to bring meals to his client.

He added: Luke O’Neill has been subject to a tirade of abuse and has been attacked while in the general prison population.

“We believe he should be moved to Roe House immediately.”