• June 9, 2013


The Office of the Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, has responded to a query from the Celtic League about detained Republican, Martin Corey. The Celtic League wrote last week expressing concerns over the circumstances of his detention (see link):


“Dear Mr Moffatt,

Thank you for your letter of 28 May 2013 regarding Martin Corey.

I should first make it clear that it is for the independent Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland, not the Secretary of State, to consider whether life sentenced prisoners are suitable for release. This process is governed by the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 and as you rightly point out, the rule of law must be followed.

In 1973 Mr Corey was charged and convicted of the murder of two police officers for which he received a life sentence. He was then released from prison in 1992 on a life licence. Upon release from prison, individuals sign a licence agreeing that they could be recalled to prison if they do not act within the terms of their release (for example, if they become a risk to the public or commit further offences).

Before revoking Mr Corey’s licence the former Secretary of State received a recommendation from the Parole Commissioners, in accordance with the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001. This recommendation was provided on the basis that Mr Corey posed a risk of serious harm to the public.

When a licence is revoked, the Parole Commissioners carry out a full review of the case in accordance with Article. 6 obligations of the European Convention on Human Rights. The individual has full legal representation and is able to challenge the case against them.

As you may be aware, Mr Corey was granted leave to judicially review the Parole Commissioners’ decision that he should not be released. The High Court ruled in his favour. This ruling was not, as you suggest, overruled by the former Secretary of State but immediately appealed according to the law.

The Court of Appeal then ruled in favour of the Secretary of State. Mr Corey’s case is currently before the Parole Commissioners for its second review and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at present.

I trust you will find this of assistance”

The Celtic League welcomes the prompt response from the NIO and we will continue to monitor events.

Obviously the comments in the paragraphs four and six of the NIO letter are open to interpretation.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

General Secretary, Celtic League:


The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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