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Transfer of responsibility for Prison Health – opens up debate on wider issues

9 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the transfer of responsibility for prisoner health from the NIO to the Department of Health.

She also called for resources to help the diagnosis of prisoners with personality disorders.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"The transfer of responsibility for the health of prisoners in our jails from the NIO to a locally accountable Minister in the Department of Health is long overdue.

"Along with transfer of responsibility there has also been the transfer of the budget to deal with prisoner health. At present there are no resources to help diagnose personality disorders, either in the prison population or within the wider general population.

"There is an onus on Michael McGimpsey to recognise the need for resources to help diagnose personality disorders. Many within the prison population are fine defaulters, who really should not be locked up in the first place, and others who should not be in our prisons because there are serious underlying mental health issues.

"While this is only the most recent issue where non-devolved matters have become the responsibility of locally accountable Ministers I believe that it further undermines the resistance particularly of some unionist politicians for the further transfer of powers away from the NIO and into local hands, and I include issues such as the full range of policing and justice powers and tax varying powers." ENDS

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