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Prison reform must be paramount - Kearney

6 October, 2016 - by Declan Kearney


Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has said prison reform must be paramount to ensure that all prisoners and prison staff are treated with respect, dignity and the highest standards of care. 

Speaking today after the Justice Committee  heard from the Prison's Ombudsman, the Director General of the Prison Service and her senior management on the Ombudsman's investigation into serious self harm by Sean Lynch in Maghaberry Prison; Declan Kearney MLA said; 

"The Ombudsman's evidence to the Justice Committee was very serious and damning. 

"All prisoners and members of prison staff deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and the highest standards of care. 

"The circumstances surrounding Sean Lynch's self harm are a travesty.  This incident of self harm should never have been allowed to happen. 

"Very serious implications arise for both the Prison Service and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. 

"It is good that the South Eastern Trust have accepted the Ombudsman's report but very disappointing no representative from the Trust attended the committee today. 

"It is also clear that effective, consistent and codified prison procedures do not exist. Important applicable rules and policies are contradictory. 

"The Prison Service displayed indifference and a lack of compassion in this case. The internal prison service investigation was completely deficient. This is absolutely unacceptable. 

"It is apparent that a security mindset still has primacy in Maghaberry rather than one based on rehabilitation. 

"I am alarmed that not all of the Ombudsman's recommendations have been accepted by the Prison Service. This must happen if we are to ensure there is no repeat of this travesty.

"Prison reform has to be paramount."

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