The Party’s North Belfast representative, Gemma Weir has called for an ‘urgent and immediate response’ to the second death in custody at Maghaberry Prison within two weeks.
‘In extending my sympathy to the family, friends and relatives, at this very difficult time , it is also important that we take immediate steps to prevent this type of tragedy re-occurring’.
‘This is the fourth death in custody in the past year”, said Gemma.
‘Clearly we have very serious and systemic problems in our prison service and ones that are costing lives’, she added
‘Undoubtedly, there are a number of factors contributing to this crisis: staffing levels, training, support from mental health professionals, management priorities and even the working culture’, Gemma said, ‘ but the Prison Service has a duty of care to those in its custody and clearly that responsibility is not being met’
‘It is extremely important that the Prison Ombudsman now conducts a thorough and comprehensive investigation and that the report, along with the other three investigations, is published as soon as possible’
‘I will be writing to the Prison Ombudsman and to the Justice Minister seeking meetings to hear at first hand their views on this extremely serious and pressing issue’, concluded Gemma