Ireland: Magaberry Prison Concerns

The Celtic League has addressed a query to Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford MLA about conditions for some prisoners at Maghaberry Prison.

The move comes following receipt of a press statement from Republican Sinn Fein which seems to imply that a fairly harsh regime of group punishment directed at republican detainees is being operated at the facility.

The League have asked for assurances in respect of five critical issues (see below):

“Mr David Ford MLA
Minister of Justice
Block B
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate
Belfast
Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG

12/07/11

Dear Minister,

We are in receipt today of a press release issued by Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) outlining concerns in relation to the conditions they allege are being endured by prisoners in Maghaberry Prison.

RSF allege that prisoners are:

“on 24-hour lock-up, they are not allowed visits, showers, education or yard time. They are existing (one could hardly call it living) in their tiny cells with excrement smeared on the walls – in the hot weather the stench is
unbearable.”

I note in earlier correspondence the emphasis your Department has placed on the facility provided to prisoners to resolve grievances. However the thrust of the RSF release is that some kind of group punishment is being imposed on prisoners at Maghaberry and if this is the case it hardly engenders confidence in a system
to allow individual resolution of grievances.

We would welcome your assurance that:

a) Facilities for family visits are available to all prisoners.

b) That adequate sanitary and hygiene amenities, including access to showers and washrooms, are available to all prisoners

c) That no total `lock-down’ denying access to reasonable exercise and recreation is in place.

d) That cell sizes (per prisoner) are adequate and comply with the requests for improvement noted in the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of nTorture (CPT) in their report on Maghaberry following their 2008 visit to the prison.

e) That no group punishment is in place which restricts or withholds access to any of the above reasonable rights.

Yours sincerely

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

Related items on Celtic News:

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3684
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3514
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3381

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

10/07/11

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