Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin motion calling for full implementation of Prison Ombudsman recommendations on Maghaberry passed.

23 February, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Human Rights, Martina Anderson, has welcomed the Assembly endorsing a Sinn Féin motion into the Prison Ombudsman's report following the death of Colin Bell in Maghaberry Prison in 2008.

The motion called for all 44 recommendations in the report to be fully implemented.

Speaking after the motion was passed Ms Anderson said:

"The circumstances surrounding the death of Colin Bell in Maghaberry prison are tragic. They follow a series of grave failings by the prison authorities that have now been highlighted in a report by the Prison Ombudsman that contains 44 recommendations.

"Colin Bell attempted to take his life on four occasions and it actually took 40 minutes before his body was discovered after he died. This was a man who was supposedly on a high risk watch.

"Instead prison wardens were watching TV, lying on a camping bed, or smoking and having tea breaks. There can be no excuse for this behaviour while in any form of work, never mind a job where those working are charged with serious responsibilities.

"This is not an isolated incident. There is in fact a culture within the prison service that is tolerated to the highest levels. For the Governor and deputy Governor not to know what was happening within their prison is gross incompetence.

"I am glad that the Assembly have endorsed the Sinn Fein motion today calling for all the recommendations in the report to be fully implemented. It is the Assembly placing what pressure we can on those responsible, namely Paul Goggins and the NIO, to make sure that they are implanted with the utmost of urgency.

"This would ensure that no other family will have to endure the suffering and the searching for answers that the Bell family have had to following the loss of a loved family member within prison."

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