Job fears at Magilligan
AROUND 400 workers at Magilligan Prison now fear for their jobs after an announcement this week that the jail is set to close by 2018 under new reform plans.
The Sentinel warned in October that unless the recommendations of a high-level Prison Review Team were ignored by officials, Magilligan would close. The Prison Review Team stated: “Ideally, a new prison should be built in a more accessible location.” It has now been confirmed that Her Majesty’s Prison, Magilligan will close by 2018.
Charities relying on inmates’ labour, those employed at the prison, inmates’ families from the North-west and local businesses now look set to lose out.
The Department of Justice has now announced that new proposals would see a new medium security prison developed in a central location, making Magilligan no longer needed.
A 10-year programme of reform, thought to be costing in the region of £240m will see Magilligan phased out by 2018.
The new strategy also proposes that a new 240-cell accommodation block be built at Maghaberry, which will be followed with longer-term plans to zone the prison based on security requirements.
East Londonderry DUP members Gregory Campbell and George Robinson yesterday issued a joint statement, strongly opposing the Prisons Estate Strategy’s recommendation to close HM Prison Magilligan by 2018.
Both stressed the huge losses incurred by the local community in terms of jobs and visiting times for families from the North-West, adding that it would be “ludicrous to spend £6million on the existing site, close it and then buy land to build a new Prison.”
Local charities may also lose out. Norman Thorpe runs a not-for-proft museum, which uses inmates at the prison to print their magazine and construct model aircfraft.
He said: “The inmates help to print out magazine – to a very high quality – as a way of helping to rehabilitate offenders by teaching them job-skills. A lot of local charities and not-for-profit enterprises make good use of their labour.
“The teachers who work there to teach the inmates these skills may also lose out.”
Gregory Campbell said: “In 2007 similar recommendations were discussed.
“We opposed the idea then and we oppose it now.
“The Prison Service eventually then came to the same conclusion that it would not make sense to close Magilligan.
“It is sensible both economically and also logistically to have a prison in the north-west as well as a prison in the east of the Province. This facility provides crucial employment in that community and such concerns should be to the forefront of this Alliance Minister’s mind as he considers the Strategy.
“£4m has already been spent on Magilligan and the Strategy outlines plans to spend another £2m. It would be ludicrous to spend £6million on the existing site, close it and then buy land to build a new Prison.
“Some have supported the closure of Magilligan because of its ‘remoteness.’ However its location is actually advantageous, as most communities don’t want a new high security prison on their doorstep.
“Indeed, the Strategy even suggests that another prison at Maghaberry would ease stress on the families of prisoners as they would have less distance to travel for visiting, however that fails to take account of those prisoners whose families live in the north-west and west of Northern Ireland. This proposal will be resisted by us as vigorously this time as it was the first time it was promoted.”
Meanwhile, Limavady’s incoming Mayor Cathal McLaughlin, who is from the Magilligan area, said that while the closure will cause considerable damage to the local economy, there was now the possibility for long-term tourism benefits.
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Weather for Londonderry
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west