Corrupt prison officer arrested for supplying drugs – Maghaberry Prison

 A serving prison officer was among five people arrested as part of an investigation into trafficking banned items into Maghaberry Prison.

The 50-year-old was arrested at the prison on Tuesday morning.

A quantity of cash and drugs were seized in a joint operation carried out by the PSNI and the Prison Service.

Three properties were searched in Newtownabbey, Belfast and Kinallen, County Down.

The prison officer was questioned in relation to conveyancing prohibited articles into a prison, misconduct in public office, possession of criminal property and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

A 28-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested in Newtownabbey.

A 55-year-old woman was arrested in Belfast and a 50-year-old woman was arrested in Kinallen.

They were all released on bail pending further enquires late on Tuesday night.

The PSNI’s Head of Reactive and Organised Crime Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said: “Detectives today seized £10,000 cash, a quantity of suspected Class A and Class B controlled drugs and a number of mobile phones.

“This operation is a good example of how collaborative working can disrupt crime and also demonstrates our commitment to Keeping People Safe by removing harmful drugs from society.”

The head of the Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, said: “I welcome the result of today’s joint operation with the PSNI and would take this opportunity to reiterate the zero tolerance drugs policy which operates within Northern Ireland’s prisons.”


‘The Prison service made an agreement they were always going to struggle to deliver – Pauline McCabe.

PRISON officials “were always going to struggle” to deliver on a deal reached with republican inmates at Maghaberry Prison, according to a new report. The report by Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe has made 12 rrecommendations in a bid to break the deadlock between Republican prisoners and prison authorities.


Tensions between dissident prisoners and staff have been high since a deal was reached to end a series of protests in August 2010. Since then prisoners have accused the prison service of reneging on commitments to introduce a body scanner to replace strip searches. In May 2011 republicans launched a campaign which led to a no-wash protest. The despuite took a deadly turn after prison officer David Black was shot dead, as he drove to work along the M1 in November, by a priceof roup styling itself ‘the IRA‘. In a surprise move prisoners aligned to the group on Maghaberry’s Roe Four landing ended their protest three weeks later. Within days inmates on Maghaberry’s Roe Three landing, who are affiliated to Oglaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA, also ended their protest.

Both Roe Four and Row Three prisoners have urged prison authorites to implement the 2010 aggreement.

In her report the omudsman suggests the Prison Service faced pressures to live up to its end of the bargain. “In effect the Prison Service made an agreement they were always going to struggle to deliver given the staffing arrangements, industrial relations agreements and working practices operational at the time of the August 12 2010 agreement,” she said. Ms McCabe also made a number of recommendations including asking authorities to introduce education programmes and give inmates access to library facilities. The Ombudsman urged prison authorities to address issues of concern surrounding controlled movement and the “negative impact that the overly high staffing levels” have “on the regime and well being of other prisoners”. Carl Reilly from prisoners group Cogus, which represents inmates on Roe Three, said the report “vindicates what campaigners have stated for a long time”. The Maghaberry Prison Adminstration has lost its final peice of wiggle room. This report makes that clear,” he said. “The August [2010] agreement must now be implemented in full, strip-searching must end, controlled movement must end and prisoners must be allowed to live with dignity and respect.” A spokesman for the Prison Said : “The report contains a number of detailed recommendations to which the Prison Service will give detailed consideration and it will respond to them in writing in due course.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.


A DERRY man charged in connection with the discovery of mortars in March R has been approached in prison by MI5 to turn ssupergrass, a court has been told. A solicitor for Gary McDaid, of Glenowen Park, told a remand hearing on Thursday at Derry Magistrates Court that while in Maghaberry Prison his client had been asked on six occasions to plead guilty and become an assisting offender.


The approaches were made in the absence of McDaid’s solicitors, he said.Representations had been made to the Prison Service, the Chief Consable, the Secretary of State and the High Court in regards to the approaches. Deputy district judge John Meehan said one possible remedy could be the granting of bail to McDaid. He adjourned the case for one week for the prosecution to show cause why McDaid should not get bail. The Northern Ireland Office confirmed in a letter that the PSNI had visited McDaid in Maghaberry. McDaid and co-accused, Seamus McLaughlin (35) of Eastway Gardens, Creggan, Derry, are both charged with conspiring to cause expolsions and pocessing improvised mortars on March 3. The charges relate to the discovery of four mortars in a van on the Letterkenny Road in the city.


ANOTHER Prisoner at Maghaberry Jail in Co AAn trim has been found dead.


Geoffrey Singleton, 42, from the Armagh  area, was found collapsed in his ccell on Monday. He was pronounced dead after being moved to an ambulance,

It is understood he took his own life. The police, coroner and prisoner ombudsman have been informed, The ddirector general of the Prison Service, Sue McAlluster, has offered her condolences to his family and friends.


Inmate was on remand during death bid !

A PRISONER was granted bail as he fought for his life in a Belfast hospital after an attempted suicide in jail, we can reveal. But the bizarre circumstances mean the Northern Ireland Prison Service do not have to record Joseph Rainey‘s death as a ‘ death in custody ‘.

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Once again, however, the Prisoner Ombuinye will be called in to investigate the tragic circumstances at the controversy-hit Hydebank Wood Prison in South Belfast. And it’s the first major headache for new Governor Paul Norbury who only took up he new post at Hydebank two weeks ago. The jail has been dogged with scandals and there have been a number of inmates who have died at the prison which caters for young offenders as well as women.


Last year the Governor Paul Alcock was suspended after inmates Frances McKeown and Samuel Carson took their own lives within hours of each other.The latest tragedy came as Joseph Patrick Thomas Rainey was in Hydebank Wood and Young Offenders ‘ Centre on remand awaiting trial for an attempted burglary charge. The 20-year-old, from Oldpark Avenue, North Belast, tried to hang himself in the prison’s Beech House but was cut down by prison officers. After 10 days on a life support machine, he passed away on April 19. The Sunday World has now learned that in an extraordinary twist, Rainey was granted bail in court – as he fought for his life in hospital a week after he tried to commit suicide. His case was listed for April 17 at Belfast Magistrates Court where he was officially remanded on bail and then last Wednesday,  April 24, the charge was officially withdrawn – after he had died. On Saturday night the Prison Service said it ‘accepted’ that his death was not a ‘death in custody’ because he had been granted bail – even ‘though the event which led to his death occurred behind bars. And they confirmed the Prisoner Omdudsman, Pauline McCabe, would be investigating.


Part of that investigation will centre around the fact that Joseph Rainey was deemed to be a Supporting Prisoner At Risk (SPAR) by the Nortern Ireland Prison Service. But despite prison chiefs recognising he was a potential danger to himself they decided not to place him in a specially designed cell for such inmates. Prison sources have said the Prison Service could be let off the hook bencause of the technicality. “Incredibly they are not treating this as a ‘death in custody’ because Rainey got bail before he died,” says a source. “but it’s yet another embarrassing case for them to deal with. The new Governor had barely taken his coat off and he has now had this chucked on his lap. “It’s not a great start but the incident happened before he officially started in the job.” A spokesman from the Prison Service said on Saturday night : “As Mr Rainey was bailed prior to his death it is accepted that this is not a ‘death in custody’ but as the cause of death is directly attibutable to his time in custody, his death will be the subject of a Prisoner Ombudsman investigation in line with her terms of reference.” Paul Norbury was appointed governor of Hydebank Wood in February 10 months after his predecessor was suspended following allegations of misconduct.


It emerged rather surprisingly, that Mr Norbury was the only candidate who applied for the job which comes with a salary of £72,000. Mr Norbury has been a prison governer elsewhere since 1982, with his most recent role in Wymott Prison in Leyland, Lancashire. An interim governor has been running Hydebank Wood since Gary Alcok was suspended in May last year. He was suspended after a report into the circumstances surronding two young inmates who took their own lives within three hours of each other in May 2011. Both prisoners, Frances  McKeown and Samuel Carson, had been subjected to bullying inside the jail. The suspension, after an interim report carried out by Ombudsman Ms. McCabe sent shockwaves through the Prison Service as it was the first time a jail Governor had been suspended from his post in over 140 years. In August Mr Alcock was charged with misconduct after a recommendation by an independant team from the Scottish Prison Service who were asked to carry out an investigation.

With many thanks to : Steven Moore, Sunday World.


Marian Price ‘refuses to meet Sinn Fein’ during prison visit

Sinn Fein have said Old Bailey bomber Marian Price has refused to meet them during a visit to Hydebank women’s prison.

The party’s MLAs Sean Lynch and Jennifer McCann visited the jail on Wednesday with a view to meeting Price.

They said Price had refused to meet them, but that they had met with prison officials and inspected “her living conditions”.

Last month, Price was moved to Hydebank from Maghaberry jail.

“We visited Hydebank today and repeat our call for the immediate release of Marian Price,” the Sinn Fein MLAs said.

“Given the fact that she has been bailed on the charges she was originally arrested for, there is no justification whatsoever for her continued detention.

“Sinn Fein is against the revoking of licenses and if there is any evidence against someone it should be brought before a court of law.

“Marian Price’s continued detention is a serious concern given her medical condition and she should be released immediately so that her medical needs can be addressed adequately.”

The prison service has told the BBC previously that the decision to move Price to Hydebank was taken on clinical advice from healthcare staff at the South Eastern Trust.

It said that since being returned to prison last year, the prison service and the trust have, on a number of occasions, discussed and reviewed her needs while in custody.

Price was returned to prison last May after appearing at a dissident republican rally in Derry and has since been charged in connection with the murders of two soldiers at Masserene in March 2009, a charge she denies.


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Maghaberry searches report not published

David Ford
Mr Ford said publishing the report would compromise prison security
Justice Minister David Ford has refused to publish the findings of a Prison Service study into alternatives to body searches at Maghaberry.

He said the report contained sensitive security and commercial information.

But this has been dismissed as a feeble excuse by the SDLP‘s John Dallat.

“As an ordinary backbencher who asked the question on behalf of a constituent, I feel I have not been given the service I’m in entitled to,” he said.

However, the minister has insisted it would be irresponsible to compromise prison security.


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Jailed Catholics ‘less well off’

prison bars

Catholics in prisons in NI get fewer privileges than their Protestant counterparts, according to a report.

A survey by Criminal Justice Inspection found 80% of prison officers were Protestants and Catholic inmates receive less favourable treatment.

This inspection examined whether criminal justice agencies were meeting their legal obligation to ensure equality and human rights are promoted.

The Prison Service was strongly criticised in the report.

There is a question to be answered as to why the religion of a prisoner would have an impact on the regime that they experience within the Prison Service.
Dr Michael Maguire
Criminal Justice Inspection

Prison Service director Robin Masefield said they had no control over the religious backgrounds of people sent to jail.

“In the past number of years, we have had a higher proportion of Roman Catholics coming through, particularly on the remand side, so inevitably one’s getting something of a slight disproportionate make-up there,” he told the BBC.

The majority of prison wardens in Northern Ireland have historically been Protestant, and Mr Masefield said about 25% to 30% of recent applicants to the Prison Service were Catholic, something which was “not as high as the police but a step in the right direction”.

Mr Masefield said the Prison Service did not have 50-50 recruitment provisions like the police, but they had “made great strides in the recent past” and aimed to achieve a target of 35% Catholic applicants by 2011.

The report, published on Tuesday, looked at equality and human rights in every aspect of agencies’ operation, policies and practice.

BBC NI Home Affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney said: “Inspectors found that Catholic prisoners received fewer privileges than Protestants and the report calls on the prison service to investigate why this is the case.

The important thing about equality monitoring is that you do not take raw data without context and draw conclusions from that
Monica Fitzpatrick
Prison Service

“But the inspectors also criticise other agencies for failing to comply with their legal obligation to properly collect and monitor equality information.”

The report’s authors said there wasn’t enough information about how the criminal justice system treats defendants, victims or witnesses.

Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, said: “The report highlights the importance of collecting timely, relevant and comprehensive information.”

He added: “There is a question to be answered as to why the religion of a prisoner would have an impact on the regime that they experience within the Prison Service.”


Privileges for prisoners include telephone access, television-watching and association with other inmates.

Prison Service equality adviser Monica Fitzpatrick said although she did not dispute the figures contained in the report, the proportion of prisoners from different religious backgrounds was constantly fluctuating.

“The important thing about equality monitoring is that you do not take raw data without context and draw conclusions from that,” she said.

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins welcomed the report and said the criminal justice system was committed to equality.

He said two of CJI‘s recommendations were already in place and an action plan for the others had been drawn up.

The report was also welcomed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Chief Executive Evelyn Collins said: “Effective monitoring allows public bodies to identify and address any underlying issues which may impact on the promotion of equality.”

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