18 September 2003 Edition

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Maghaberry segregation welcomed

The segregation of prisoners in Maghaberry jail is being introduced. The move follows the publication of the Steele Report, carried out by former head of prisons in the Six Counties, John Steele, who was asked by Secretary of State Paul Murphy to carry out a review into the safety of both prisoners and staff in the jail.

The decision comes in the wake of violent clashes between rival groups in the County Antrim jail and in the face of protests being carried out by a group of prisoners belonging to so-called republican micro groups.

Steele's report concluded that the separation of paramilitary prisoners is necessary in the interests of safety. It added: "We reached this view after much soul-searching and on the basis that the government will never again concede control of wings to prisoners as happened in Long Kesh."

The report did not spell out how the separation should be implemented and the prison service will work out how best to introduce it.

Sinn Féin's John Kelly, welcoming the move, said "I am glad this issue has at last been resolved".

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