Ex-prisoners group Coiste na nIarchimí have scored a notable victory after the Security Industry Authority amended its criteria to allow ex-POWs to take up jobs in the licensed trade.The move came after local man Liam Dougan pursued his case through the courts for two years.

Liam, a former republican prisoner from Clonard, was refused a Front Line Operative and Door Supervision (FLODS) licence by the SIA in 2010 due to the criteria that automatically exclude ex-prisoners from the job. With the support of Coiste and with the legal help of local solicitor Pádraig Ó Muirigh, Liam appealed the decision at both Magistrates and County Court level, but the decision was upheld.

A judicial review of the decision was then sought, with Mr Ó Muirigh pointing out that Liam’s conviction was conflict-related and should therefore be exempt from the SIA licensing criteria.  The Public Interest Litigation project, which seeks to advance the cause of minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals, also got on board with the case.

At the end of May, before the court hearing took place, the SIA revised the criteria, meaning that ex-POWs applying for the licence will no longer fall into the automatic refusal category.

“This is a significant step,” said Mr Ó Muirigh. “People in Liam’s situation will now not be held back from jobs they are well able for and they will face no difficulty in going forward.  This is a big step for ex-prisoners.”

Jim McVeigh from Coiste also welcomed the decision to revise the criteria.

“Dozens if not hundreds of people could have been affected by this situation but thanks to the political and legal pressure brought to bear, it has been changed.”

Liam said that without the support for his case, he and many others could have been left neglected.

“I would like to thanks Pádraig and Jim for their support in this case,” he said.  “Padraig took it on voluntarily and Coiste work hard everyday for ex-prisoners. Their input and support has been so important.  Not only has this worked for me, but for many others in my situation.”