Magilligan ‘may stay open’

HMP Magilligan. Paul Faith/PA Wire
HMP Magilligan. Paul Faith/PA Wire

Limavady’s deputy mayor has given a “cautious welcome” to speculation in the media indicating Magilligan Prison may remain open.

Under a review of the Prisons Estate, Justice Minister David Ford is considering a proposal to decommission the County Derry jail. The move has met with fierce opposition from the Prison Officers Association, politicians and local business representatives. They argue closure of Magilligan jail would be a severe blow to the economy, in particular in the Roe Valley area.

In a statement today, DUP councillor Alan Robinson referred to media reports emerging in the last 24 hours “suggesting the Minister is now reassessing the proposal to close the Prison in 2018”.

“Certainly at Stormont Question time on Monday afternoon, the Minister appeared to be a little more conciliatory when responding to questioning by my DUP MLA colleagues,” said Deputy Mayor Robinson. “It is also welcome to hear the Minister now recognise the concerns within this region when he was quoted as saying ‘I recognise that in coming to a decision on the future of Magilligan prison we cannot ignore the impact that its closure would have on the local economy’.”

Colr. Robinson said regardless of any speculation, “the fight to retain Magilligan continues where a rally will be held in Stormont next Monday when the petition, organised by the Prison Officers Association, will be delivered to the Justice Minister, David Ford”.

Colr. Robinson added: “We cannot rest on our laurels and, to that end, the Chief Executives from the Limavady, Coleraine and Ballymoney Councils will be meeting to discuss further ideas in order for those Councils to take forward. We cannot allow all that will be gained from the recent announcement of the relocation of DARD (to Ballykelly) then be negated by the loss of Magilligan.”

Last month, a delegation including Limavady councillors and members of the local Chamber of Trade met with Minister Ford to put forward the case why a jail should remain at Magilligan.

The minister told the ‘Journal’, at a recent meeting he attended in Limavady, the decision regarding Magilligan had not been made; that it was not a done deal, and a decision on the prison’s future was likely in January 2013.