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Reasons behind Maisefield's resignation cause for concern - McCartney

18 June, 2010 - by Raymond McCartney

Sinn Féin Spokesperson and vice-Chair of the Justice Committee, Raymond McCartney MLA (Foyle) has voiced serious concerns at speculation that the reinstatement of Prison Officers disciplined following the death in custody of Colin Bell is the reason behind the announced resignation of Prison Service Director General, Robin Maisefield.

Raymond McCartney said:

"It is seriously concerning that it would seem Prison Officers, some on whom were clearly identified sleeping at a time when a vulnerable prisoner committed suicide are to be reinstated.

"There is significant evidence that the prison service rather than being controlled by Senior Management is in fact run by the Prison Officers Association (POA). There is speculation in today's media that the announced resignation of Prison Director General, Robin Masefield is in response to the reinstatement of these Prison Officers who were clearly in dereliction of their duty of care to vulnerable prisoners.

"This is the second high profile resignation by a senior member of the Prison Management that raised concerns about the undue power and influence of the POA on the management and staffing of prisons.

"I am calling on Justice Minister, David Ford to bring forward plans for a full reassessment of the Prison Service as a matter of urgency. It is unacceptable that the POA can seemingly frustrate, at will, any attempts to reform the prison system. While prisoners are deprived of their liberty it does not follow that they should be deprived of their dignity and humanity at the behest of a small circle of individuals who refuse to accept the need for change. ENDS

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