Donaldson v United Kingdom: No right for prisoners to wear Easter lilies

Graffin, Neil (2012). Donaldson v United Kingdom: No right for prisoners to wear Easter lilies. King's Law Journal, 23(1) pp. 101–108.



In the recent case of Donaldson v United Kingdom the European Court denied a claim from an imprisoned Irish Republican that HMP Maghaberry prison violated Article 102 and Article 143 of the European Convention on Human Rights when it asked him to remove an Easter lily from his clothing. The Easter lily has long been regarded as a symbol commemorating Irish Republican combatants who died during or were executed after the 1916 Easter Rising, a rebellion against the British Government’s rule in Ireland. In this case, the applicant, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence at Roe House, a segregated wing of HMP Maghaberry for Republican prisoners, affixed an Easter lily to his outer clothing on Easter Sunday in March 2008. A prison officer asked him to remove the Easter lily and when he refused he was charged with disobeying a lawful order under the Prison and Young Offenders Centre Rules (Northern Ireland) 1995, which prohibits prisoners from wearing emblems outside their cells. In HMP Maghaberry an exception was made with respect to the wearing of a shamrock on St Patrick’s Day and the wearing of poppies on Remembrance Sunday as these emblems were deemed to be ‘non-political and non-sectarian’

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