Marian Price Maghaberry cell furnishings not luxury: Ford

Marian Price Marian Price is the only prisoner in Glen House

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Justice Minister David Ford has said the refurbishment of Marian Price's cell in Maghaberry Prison was proportionate and "in no sense luxury".

Last month it emerged over £2,250 has been spent refurbishing a unit in the prison - Glen House - for Price.

The total cost included a flat screen TV/DVD combination in her cell.

Mr Ford was asked by the DUP's Paul Givan what impact on public confidence in the prison service news of the expenditure would have.

In a written answer Mr Ford said: "Given the unique circumstances of the custody of Mrs McGlinchey (nee Price) the governor (as part of his duty of care) was content that the refurbishment was necessary and proportionate and the furnishings were in no sense 'luxury'.

"The expenditure was necessary to provide accommodation and a regime comparable to that available for female prisoners in Ash House at Hydebank Wood."

He said the expenditure was authorised by the governor of Maghaberry and supported by the director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Price, 57, has been charged with providing property, namely a mobile phone, for the purposes of terrorism.

The charge is linked to the murders of Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at Massereene barracks in Antrim in March 2009.

Price's cell was fitted out with a TV/DVD, a computer, curtains and a duvet set and a lamp, mat and cushions.

Among the items provided for the unit's recreation room were another flat screen TV, with a digi box and DVD player, a coffee table, book case, pictures and a mat.

More money was spent on a picnic bench for the exercise yard, a summer seat and a total of 18 pots and planters containing flowers.

Mr Ford also revealed that 14 cells were currently unavailable for use by male prisoners in Maghaberry as a result of Price being the sole occupant of Glen House.

Price and her sister Dolours were jailed for their part in an IRA London bombing campaign in 1973 which included an attack at the Old Bailey.

The DUP previously described the money spent on her prison accommodation as "insulting".

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