Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Raymond McCartney MLA has called for the immediate release of a chronically-ill Belfast grandmother who was jailed for non-payment of her TV license.
The Foyle MLA was commenting after the woman – who suffers from a number of serious health problems – was arrested on foot of a bench warrant for unpaid TV license fines.
He said: “This is a distressing case and the arrest and imprisonment of this woman for a fairly minor offence.
“The family have made it clear there are mitigating factors given her very serious health problems and efforts were actually being made to pay the outstanding fines at the time she was arrested.
“However, it seems that because the bench warrant had already been issued, this was not accepted and she was instead arrested from her home and is now being held in Hydebank Prison.
“I believe that is a gross over-reaction. The system should have showed some flexibility in this case because jailing a chronically grandmother does no-one any service, particularly when she was making good on her efforts to pay the fines.
“The relevant authorities should now intervene, show some common sense and ensure she is immediately released.” ENDS/CRÍOCH