An Alliance Party delegation has met with the Maghaberry Review Team. Speaking after the meeting, Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell expressed Alliance’s support for the Review Team in “their very difficult job”.
Mrs Bell stated: “There is no desire within the wider community for a return to a situation where segregated prisoners claiming political status control the prison on the inside, and prison officers simply control the perimeter.
“It is important to note that Maghaberry doesn’t just contain paramilitaries, but also those convicted of ‘ordinary’ offences, and a number of asylum seekers
“It is crucial that the Prison Service remains in control of the prison, not the prisoners. There is no automatic right to segregation and the authorities should maintain a regime that is as close to normal, as they do in prisons in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
“Any justification for ‘political status’ disappeared after the Agreement, and so demands for formal segregation should be resisted.
“The safety of both officers and prisoners must be the main priority, but arguing that this can only be achieved through segregation is not necessarily correct. The best way forward is for the prison authorities to adopt a pragmatic and commonsense approach, judging each case on its merits rather than adopting policies that are a return to the past.”
The delegation consisted of Mrs Bell and Justice and Human Rights Spokesperson, Stephen Farry.