Northern Ireland

Maghaberry Prison: Incident on dissident republican wing over

Maghaberry Prison
Image caption The standoff at the prison ended on Monday night

An incident involving dissident republican inmates at Maghaberry Prison has now ended.

Earlier, prison management withdrew staff from the landings in Roe House housing dissidents.

Sources have told the BBC that prison officers are now back on the landings and that dissident republican inmates have returned to their cells.

It is understood the incident - which involved at least 40 inmates - ended without the use of force.

A protest, involving about 200 people, took place outside the prison in support of the republican prisoners.

At one stage some of the protesters attacked the car of a prison officer arriving for work.

Northern Ireland Prison Service director general Sue McAllister said: "I can confirm the incident involving separated prisoners in Roe House has ended with no injuries to staff or prisoners."

She also said the prison service remained committed to the recent Stocktake report by the Roe House Independent Assessment Team.

"Managing prisoners in a high security facility is challenging. We are clear that we wish to move to a normalised regime within a secure environment," she said.

"The report by the independent assessment team which was published at the end of last year remains the best way to make progress in Roe House.

"The prison service remains committed to the implementation of the recommendations within the Stocktake report.

"However this can only happen in an environment where the agreement is honoured and our staff are free from threats and intimidation."

Earlier, the prison service has said it was dealing with an "ongoing incident" at the County Antrim prison.

It is understood prison service management withdrew staff from Roe House landings because of verbal abuse and threats from dissident inmates.

The situation has been tense for weeks.

'Locked down'

Last week, a group representing some dissident republican prisoners in the jail released a statement saying that recent structural changes to Roe House landings were an attempt to debase and disempower the inmates.

Image caption About 200 people protested in support of republican prisoners

Little information has been made available about Monday's incident, but prisoners were locked down in a number of areas within their wing.

Maghaberry Prison is Northern Ireland's only high-security jail.

It houses men who have been convicted of serious offences as well as remand prisoners awaiting trial.

The inmates are held in both separated and integrated conditions.

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