Dissident Republican who was jailed for attempted murder wins access to library books

A dissident republican jailed for trying to murder a PSNI officer has won a High Court battle to secure access to library books.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 27th July 2020, 3:12 pm
Sean McVeigh
Sean McVeigh

Sean McVeigh received a 25-year sentence after being found guilty of planting a bomb under the policeman’s car at his home in Eglinton, Co Derry.

McVeigh, 39, is currently being held within the segregated regime at Maghaberry Prison.

He brought a legal challenge against the Department of Justice for allegedly denying permission to attend the library within the jail due to his status as a separated prisoner.

It was also claimed that the authorities had failed to establish a system for inmates in his position to request and borrow books.

Lawyers for McVeigh argued that the situation was irrational and breached his human rights by preventing him from furthering his education during imprisonment.

Judicial review proceedings were ended, however, following confirmation that the Department is to implement a means of accessing library books for prisoners in the separated Roe House wing.

An order was made dismissing the case on that basis.

McVeigh’s solicitor described the outcome as a major advancement for prisoner entitlements in Northern Ireland.

Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law said: “This victory represents another much needed vindication of our client’s rights and the rights of prisoners in separated conditions.

“Access to information is a fundamental right, and there should be no discrimination in this regard.”

Mr Booth added: “A decision to restrict such access impacts not just these prisoners but all of society.

“We welcome the prison’s decision to now allow our client access to the prison Library and resources.”

McVeigh, formerly of Victoria Street in Lurgan, Co Armagh, was convicted of attempted murder following a non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court last year.

The attack at the police officer’s home was foiled when his wife raised the alarm in the early hours of June 18, 2015.

During sentencing the judge described McVeigh as a “committed dissident republican terrorist”. ends