HC Deb 16 December 1996 vol 287 c467W
Mr. Peter Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many(a) loyalist and (b) republican life sentence prisoners are currently conforming with prison regulations and have received release dates. [8722]

Sir John Wheeler

There are currently 12 loyalist and four republican life sentence prisoners with provisional release dates. Provisional in this context means that a prisoner is required satisfactorily to complete a pre-release programme lasting normally around nine months before the Secretary of State will decide whether to release the individual on life licence. Life sentence prisoners are released within 15 days of the Secretary of State's having signed the life licence.

Prisoners are not categorised into various groupings. However, the definitions requested in the question are recorded for purely management purposes and reflect the prisoners' perceived affiliations.

None of the 16 prisoners with a provisional date for release have had the date varied or withdrawn because of a breach of prison regulations.