Closure would be a ‘big loss’

A longtime businessman says if proposals to decommission Magilligan Prison go ahead it will have a huge impact locally.

Harry Canning who runs the family supermarket business with his brother, George says they benefit from passing trade from the prison, including business from those who work and visit the jail.

“I hope what was said at the meeting on Monday night makes a difference. You don’t know, but you have to be hopeful,” he said. “It would have a big effect on us, but the minister said he wanted to hear good things about the prison, well we get ‘thank you’ cards all the time from visitors who say they’re so well treated here in Magilligan. They also say their families are treated very well in Magilligan and prefer coming here any day over Maghaberry.”

“We get also get a lot of passing trade and we’d be very busy in the morning,” he said. “People come in to get a paper or their lunch, or a lotto ticket. It all adds up.”

Mr. Canning says if the proposal does go ahead, the family business would be impacted.

“Well we would certainly have to tighten our belts,” he said. “No doubt, it would be a big loss to us, but you can only be hopeful.”

Mr. Canning added: “Put it like this, when you look at the money needed to build a new prison and what they have spent on the prison so far, the proposal to decommission Magilligan is absolutely crazy.”