Prison officers reject claims of force against Maghaberry republican inmates

Finlay Spratt said prison officers were reacting to fighting between prisoners
Finlay Spratt said prison officers were reacting to fighting between prisoners

The Prison Officers Association has rejected claims that their members used excessive force with republican prisoners at Maghaberry.

A law firm acting on behalf of several prisoners issued a statement raising the allegations.

Belfast firm KRW Law said it had been instructed by a number of sentenced and remand prisoners held in the jail.

“Tension – often violent – has been an occurrence within Roe House between the Prison Service, the Prison Officers Association and the prisoners for a number of years,” the firm said.

“Yesterday [Thursday] these violent tensions erupted again between staff and prisoners with allegations of verbal abuse against prisoners and the use of restraint, lock down and segregation.

“A control squad of prison officers allegedly ‘danced all over’ one republican prisoner whilst another came to his assistance, and were placed in segregated accommodation.”

Finlay Spratt of the Prison Officers Association said: “I certainly heard there had been some trouble this week at Maghaberry.

“But my understanding is that this was prisoners fighting among themselves – and our staff have to deal with that.”

He added: “I would totally reject claims that officers ‘danced all over’ a prisoner.

“Prison officers are very caring people.”

A Department of Justice spokesman confirmed it had received legal correspondence but could not comment due to possible proceedings.