28 August 2003 Edition

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Maghaberry attack shows need for segregation

Two dissident republican have been beaten by a gang of loyalists inside Bann House at Maghaberry Prison, County Antrim.

Up to seven loyalists attacked John Connolly, from Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, in his cell, beating him about the head on Tuesday 26 August. According to reports, loyalists went into his cell and tried to strangle him and then tried to shoot him but the gun jammed.

Another dissident prisoner who ran to help him was also beaten by the gang.

Both prisoners sustained bruising and one was treated for cuts to his head.

All visits to the prison were suspended on Wednesday 27 August

The latest attack comes amid dissident republicans' continuing protests in a bid to secure segregation in the County Antrim prison.

Commenting on the attack, Sinn Féin spokesperson on prison issues Michael Browne said Sinn Féin had met with the Steele Review Panel last week and told it that segregation of prisoners is needed in Maghaberry.

"What is required is segregation," he insisted. "It is clear that forced integration does not work, there is no logic in trying to force politically hostile prisoners to live together in prison. This is a question of common sense, it is now a question of when and how segregation will be applied across the board."

Browne added that the NIO already operates a policy of segregation in Maghaberry for individuals within the various loyalist factions, a decision taken on grounds of safety without the need for a review.

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