Lisburn Councillor Robbie Butler has called on the Alliance Justice Minister “to step up to the mark and ensure our much-needed prison staff are paid better wages”.
Councillor Butler was speaking following the publication on a recent contentious report on Maghaberry prison, which is located within his Killutagh region.
Referring to the external recruitment programme for prison officers, Councillor Butler issued a challenge to the Minister.
“Do you believe that the salaries and the terms and conditions for new, incoming prison officers are adequate to retain and recruit prison officers to the standard that is needed in the current prison system?” asked Mr Butler.
“As a result of questions like this to the Minister, he has responded to the UUP telling us that changes have recently been made to the terms and conditions of newly appointed officers, and it is his understanding, at this stage, is that, with the current scheme looking to appoint up to 100 prison officers, in excess of 1,000 applications have already been received.
“The Minister told the UUP that suggests that the terms and conditions that are being offered, and the modest improvement to them recently, makes them acceptable to those who would consider a career in the Prison Service.
“Given the unique conditions which prison staff have to cope with in Northern Ireland and especially in Maghaberry jail, I want the Minister to give a pledge that he will ensure that there is more than a ‘modest improvement’ in pay and conditions for such much-needed security staff.”