Northern Ireland news

Justice minister says changes made at Maghaberry since Sean Lynch case

Sean Lynch blinded himself while being watched by prison staff in Maghaberry in 2014. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin 
Gareth McKeown

CHANGES have been made to the management of prisoners within Maghaberry after a Derry man blinded himself under the supervision of staff, the justice minister has said.

Claire Sugden said the prison is implementing an "action plan" and procedures for vulnerable prisoners are being reviewed.

Over a three-day period at Maghaberry jail in 2014, remand prisoner Sean Lynch inflicted "extreme and shocking" injuries on himself while prison officers watched.

A Prisoner Ombudsman's report revealed a catalogue of failures.

Ms Sugden said 63 recommendations for improvement were made, with Maghaberry implementing an action plan.

"This action plan will be monitored and scrutinised by senior managers within the prison," she said

"In particular there will be a training needs analysis completed of several areas, with identified training delivered to relevant staff. There have been a number of changes in regards to the management of prisoners within Observation Cells which have already been implemented.

"Significantly there is a service-wide review being conducted on the Supporting Prisoners at Risk document and procedures. This will ensure the process becomes more robust and effective."

The response came after an assembly question from People Before Profit Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann.

Prison Service director general Sue McAllister apologised at an assembly committee earlier this month for the injuries suffered by Mr Lynch.

However, the Derry man's family said the apology would only mean anything if action is taken against staff.

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