Northern Ireland

Children to use 'mop bucket' after toilet request at Maghaberry Prison, republicans claim

There are claims children were told to use 'mop bucket' after a toilet request at Maghaberry Prison
There are claims children were told to use 'mop bucket' after a toilet request at Maghaberry Prison

PRISON chiefs have denied that "demeaning language" was used after claims children attending a jail visit were told to use a "mop bucket" after requesting a toilet.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association claimed that this was one of several complaints raised by relatives of inmates at Maghaberry Prison in recent weeks.

Paddy Gallagher said during a recent visit to the jail, relatives and some children aged under 12, were "hemmed into a room" and denied the use of a toilet.

"When challenged about this and told that there were children who needed to use the toilet, the response was 'let them use the mop bucket in the corner'," he claimed.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "There was a short delay with the bus to transport some visitors out of the prison.

"One visitor informed staff that a child required the toilet, however, the bus arrived shortly after and the toilet was not used. At no time did staff use demeaning or derogatory language."

The spokesman added that "any visitor with a complaint regarding those processes or about a member of prison staff they can refer that to the Governor and/or the Prisoner Ombudsman".

Concerns have also been raised about the suspension of weekend visits to the Co Antrim prison, which Mr Gallagher said would pose difficulties for potential visitors who "will now have to take a day off work if they want to visit a loved one".

"With the world in financial despair, families will be hit hard with the loss of a day's wage, this is if their employers will allow one day off per week," he said.

In response the Prison Service spokesman confirmed that "as a temporary measure Saturday visits have been moved to Tuesday, with family focused visits taking place from July 19".

"This is the case for all prisoners in Maghaberry and this decision will be regularly reviewed," he said.

"Virtual visits will continue every day, including weekends."

It is also alleged visitors are being asked to remove items of clothing to establish if they are wearing football tops.

The spokesman said: "All visitors to the prison are checked to ascertain if they are wearing sports type tops, if they are, then they are asked to keep those concealed under their coat or jumper for the duration of the visit - this is standard practice in the interest of encouraging a neutral environment for all".