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Man unable to cross border launches legal challenge

Vincent Kelly with his legal representative, Ciaran Cunningham Vincent Kelly with his legal representative, Ciaran Cunningham
By Michael Jackson

LEGAL representatives for a former republican prisoner have applied for a judicial review into the conditions of his release, which prevent him from visiting his family across the border.
Although raised in Dublin, West Belfast resident Vincent Kelly is banned from travelling outside the north without permission from the PSNI, which can only be given on “compassionate” or “exceptional” circumstances.
Mr Kelly was arrested in November 2014 and was given a nine-year sentence for possession of a firearm. After being released on licence in May 2019, the 34-year-old has been subjected to a number of stringent restrictions, which have prevented him from visiting his seriously ill father and his mother, who is his father’s sole carer. He must also reside at an address known to the PSNI and must report daily to a police station.
The restrictions will remain in place until November 2023 and are forcing Mr Kelly to choose between being with his family in Dublin and staying in Belfast to rebuild a relationship with his 14-year-old son, who was estranged through his father’s years in prison.
Following a challenge from Mr Kelly’s solicitor, Bretnall Legal, the Department of Justice suggested that he make a “formal request to reside on licence outside of the jurisdiction of the UK”.
Mr Kelly’s legal representative, Ciaran Cunningham, said that the restrictions throw up important legal and human rights implications in relation to European freedom of movement laws and European convention rights.
“The overt restrictions placed on our client represent an evident and serious challenge to his most basic human rights, rights that are enshrined in both the European Convention on Human Rights and under EU Law that have protected Irish citizens for decades and which cannot be discarded in the way that has been attempted in this instance,” he said.
“This also represented a direct challenge to Vincent’s right, as an Irish and European Citizen to reside in Belfast yet travel freely to another Irish city where he can have regular contact with the rest of his family.
“With a view to re-instating Vincent’s human rights and assisting him in rebuilding his life with his family, both north and south, we are initiating Judicial Review proceedings on his behalf to challenge the legality of the Department’s actions.”

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