Alliance Coleraine Councillors have welcomed comments from Justice Minister David Ford suggesting Magilligan Prison could remain open in some form.
It was expected the prison would close in 2018, but comments from the Justice Minister this week in the Assembly confirmed that the decision is not yet final.
Councillor Yvonne Boyle, a Mental Health Social Worker who has worked with prisoners in the North West, said: “I welcome the comments from the Justice Minister this week that suggest the prison may be retained on some level.
“There have been real concerns raised throughout the area over the impact the prison’s closure would have on the local economy. Both myself and Cllr Fitzpatrick have relayed these to the Minister. He has now confirmed no decision will be made without a full economic appraisal being completed.
“Reducing re-offending rates and therefore increasing the protection of the public is in everyone’s interests. One of the issues about the Magilligan site is the limited opportunities for rehabilitation in terms of training and employment in the surrounding area. Informed responses on how local stakeholders could assist with a response to rehabilitation opportunities would be welcome in the continuing consultation. Both Alliance Councillors continue to be committed to working on these initiatives which are currently ongoing.”
Councillor Barney Fitzpatrick added: “I also have to welcome the suggestion from the Justice Minister this week that the future of Magilligan Prison may not yet be 100% decided. We must put our trust in the Minister and the Justice Department to explore all the angles.
“Magilligan Prison has a good reputation locally and I am pleased the Minister is considering how a retained prison could enable effective rehabilitation of prisoners.”