Bell calls for proper facilities for asylum seekers

Deputy Alliance Leader Eileen Bell has said there must be ‘positive regime change’ for asylum seekers in Northern Ireland, from prison facilities to more humane accommodation.

Mrs Bell, who is Alliance’s Victims Spokesperson, was speaking after a visit to Maghaberry Prison at the invitation of Amnesty International to coincide with Refugee Week. Mrs Bell said she would be adding her name to a joint letter to Home Office Minister Barbara Roche to ask her for a meeting to discuss the matter

Mrs Bell stated: “This is a serious human rights issue. To hold asylum seekers in a prison until their cases are processed is both an affront to their dignity and potentially dangerous.

“Not only is the Government jailing people who have not been convicted of any crime, but they are being locked up for up to 17 hours a day and held in the same wing as some of the most violent terrorists in Northern Ireland.

“It is no longer acceptable for Northern Ireland to be the only part of the UK that jails asylum seekers because there is no other appropriate accommodation. What we need is for the Government to introduce a speedy ‘positive regime change’, from prisons to more humane conditions.”

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