“To retain the good work that is being done at the prison..”

The parliamentary Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has published its report on the Review of the NI Prison Service [pdf version here] and, as predicted, they have recommended “that extensive prison facilities are rebuilt on the Magilligan site.”From the conclusions and recommendations in the report

7. We conclude that the existing prison buildings at Magilligan are inadequate and that they need to be replaced as a matter of priority. To retain the good work that is being done at the prison, particularly in the area of resettlement, we recommend that extensive prison facilities are rebuilt on the Magilligan site. (Paragraph 59)

And, as reported here, they have also had something to say on the separation of prisoners

16. Given the history of the Maze prison, where paramilitary groups took control of their wings from the prison authorities, and given the more recent evidence of threats to prison officers, we recognise that a degree of controlled movement on the separated wings is necessary. However, we also acknowledge with regret that the maintenance of this regime has inevitably had a negative impact on the educational and recreational opportunities available to some of these prisoners as well as the wider prisoner community. It is an issue which must be kept under constant review. (Paragraph 99)

17. In his evidence to the Committee on 21 November, the Minister acknowledged that it would be desirable to see separation phased out as the political situation improved but he was quite clear that he did not envisage an early end to separation. We believe that ending separation should be a high priority for those responsible for criminal justice after devolution and we would welcome an early debate on this issue among Northern Ireland’s political representatives. (Paragraph 103)

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  • agh

    just heard on BBC that over 50% of our prisoners are in the clanger because they didn’t pay bills/fines!! That is compared to just 2% in England and Wales!
    Surely, this is an area that needs to be sorted immediately! Cash must just be haemorrhaging from the NI economy!!

  • BonarLaw


    I suspect that you are referring to prisoners who are fined by a court but whose legal reps request an “immediate warrant” substituting seven days for the amount of the fine. If this option wasn’t open to a court the sentence would be straight custody as is the case in E&W;hence the 2% figure you quote from there.

  • joeCanuck

    Magilligan is at the edge of nowhere.
    Such a site has always been a hardship for families to visit.
    I think we should show those innocent victims, children and wives, some consideration by building a new facility nearer to Belfast.
    Isn’t there some vacant, government owned, land near Lisburn?

  • BonarLaw

    “Magilligan … has always been a hardship for families to visit”.

    Forgive me for not giving a flying f*@k about the inconvienience caused to the felons’ domestic establishment.

  • joeCanuck

    Harsh Bonarlaw.

    I have no sympathy for the felons whatsover but some of the families may have had no complicitness and may have been unaware, of what the felon was about.

  • Glensman

    Very Harsh,

    Just because people are in prison does not necessarily make them evil and those prisoners and their families should be facilitated in visits. I think a more central and accessable site would be preferable to Magiligan…

  • noel adams

    Given we get lots of anti direct rule comments from local MPs, how did it come to pass that only Dr Mcdonald and a late Sammy Wilson attended the sesion in the stormont hotel in oct when this evidence was taken.

  • joeCanuck

    Sammy Wilson is dead and still attending meetings!
    What a guy.

    Sorry, Pete, couldn’t resist a little word play.

  • BonarLaw

    Joe & Glensman

    harsh, but so what? Maybe three years of grief from the missus about having to travel to the arse end of nowhere might just incentivise the scrotes to keep on the straight and narrow.

  • Infrequent Poster

    I’m actually quite glad to hear that it’s staying up there.

    I think we’re agreed that prisons are around to stay. Yeah, we have the “they do/they don’t work” debate. But people commit crime, they get locked up and so, ergo, prisons exists.

    First, it IS out of the way for prisoners families, without a doubt. But it’s there. It’s built already. Everywhere else is going to be giving it “not in my backyard”. So the question of siting a prison? Solved!

    Second, there are around 400 jobs attached to this prison. They’re dirty jobs, I’m sure, but someone has to do it. And the north west can’t afford to lose 400 more jobs this or next year. I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with that?

    Third – and you’ll have a really good laugh at this one, but please hear me out – Magilligan Prison is an eyesore in the middle of an area of outstanding natural beauty.

    Well, long may it stay. Cos while it’s there, there will be no massive development of “luxury” (read: very small) “exclusive” (read: no one local could afford them) and most importantly “holiday” (read: come at the weekends, spend no money locally) “homes”.

    And while an eyesore it undoubtedly is, keeping THOSE f**kers at bay, is no bad thing.

    PS I have followed a wee bit of this, and the only mantra being chanted against it is Francie Brolly’s tired old “it stifles tourism” rant. Perhaps Francie should have thought about that before his muckers stifled the development of a planned arts centre that was about to reach fruition in the middle of Limavady.


    (slinks back off into the lurking darkness)

  • Richard Walsh


    The recommendation of Westminster’s “Northern Ireland Affairs Committee” that “high priority” should be given to the ending of segregation of Republican PoWs in Maghaberry Gaol is a matter of deep concern, a spokesperson for Republican Sinn Féin has said.

    RSF Publicity Officer Richard Walsh – also PRO for the Republican Prisoners’ Action Group, which campaigns on behalf of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry – said that the British appeared to have learned none of the lessons of the past.

    “Maghaberry Gaol was variously described as a ‘time-bomb’ and ‘powder-keg’ prison under the integrated régime. Indeed, Republican PoW Tommy Crossan was scalded by Loyalists including Clifford Peeples whilst he was housed on an integrated landing. The British-backed ‘Steele Report’ recommended the reintroduction of segregation in order to protect the health and safety of prisoners.

    “It appears that there are those in Westminster who now wish to repeat the mistakes of the past. Republican PoWs in Maghaberry Gaol took part in a ten-month protest for full political status, which was suspended in good faith earlier this year. However, it seems that rather than address the outstanding issues, the Brits wish instead to roll back on the concessions made.

    “Any attempt to return to the situation of enforced integration or to criminalise Republican prisoners will be resisted both inside and outside the gaols. In the words of a well-known song, ‘[They] will wear no convict’s uniform, nor meekly serve [their] time, that England might brand Ireland’s fight eight-hundred years of crime.’”