Prison protests are slammed

Protests at Maghaberry Prison in support of Republican prisoners in Roe House have been condemned by a Lagan Valley MLA.

Prisoners had been carrying out an ongoing protest in Maghaberry and it is understood that staff had been withdrawn from the prison landings on Monday, with visits to the prison being cancelled.

Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan, who is also the Chairman of the Stormont Justice Committee, said prisoners had been “engaged in a deliberate campaign of intimidation” against prison officers.

“Over the past number of weeks the level of confrontation by prisoners has increased with direct threats being made to staff and during the incident on Monday graffiti was scribed on the wall warning ‘David Black No2 Very Soon’,” said Mr Givan.

“It is wholly unacceptable for prison service staff to be subject to the abuse and intimidation that is being inflicted upon them by Republican Prisoners.

“I raised my concerns with the Justice Minister through an urgent procedure in the Assembly and along with my colleagues Jonathan Craig and Edwin Poots met with the Chief and Deputy Chief Constable to raise our concerns about how the protest was policed on Monday night which caused disruption to local residents in Maghaberry village and put in danger the life of a Prison Officer that got caught up in the protest with his vehicle surrounded and subjected to abuse from protestors.

“The Prison Service Management and Justice Minister needs to stand firm against the Republican demands and all politicians should give their full support to the prison staff on the front line doing a job under extreme pressure on behalf of everyone in Northern Ireland.”