A new £200m jail at Magilligan first touted by the now deceased former Prisons Minister Paul Goggins almost ten years ago is vital to stop re-offending behaviour and because the current prison is old, expensive and inefficient.
That’s according to Justice Minister David Ford who said he wants to build a new jail but was told he couldn’t have the money when he asked the former Finance Minister Simon Hamilton for funds last April.
Outlining the situation in response to a query by outgoing Independent MLA Claire Sugden he said the prison project, which the late Mr Goggins had originally hoped would be finished last year, has been long-fingered for want of capital.
“I consider the construction of a new prison at Magilligan essential to enable NIPS to deliver the requisite programmes to address re-offending behaviour; to meet Disability Discrimination Act standards; and to replace the existing infrastructure, which has outlived its useful life and is expensive and inefficient to staff, maintain and operate,” said Mr Ford.
“An outline business case for the Redevelopment of Magilligan Prison was approved by the Department of Finance and Personnel in January 2015.
“I met with the then Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, in April 2015 to emphasise the importance of securing funding for the Redevelopment of Magilligan Project.
“However Mr Hamilton was unable to give any commitment to funding until longer term capital budgets have been agreed by the Executive,” said the Justice Minister.
The on-off Magilligan rebuild has been stalled by funding constraints.
And in 2011 Dame Anne Owens’ Prison Review report, referring to Magilligan, stated that: “Ideally, a new prison should be built in a more accessible location.
“Failing that, there should be a timed programme either to rebuild it for a new role or to refurbish existing accommodation.”