The rebuild of Magilligan Prison will be on hold until the NI Executive can “agree the finances for Northern Ireland”, Justice Minister David Ford has said.
In March 2013, David Ford announced rather than build a new prison near Belfast to replace Magilligan, as was the recommendation from a Prison Service Review of facilities, he opted to build a new prison at the Magilligan site.
However, the Minister said in June 2014 he couldn’t guarantee the new build would go ahead as planned without approval from the Department of Finance.
“The question is much more this: at what point will the Executive agree the finances for Northern Ireland for the future so that we know what the opportunities are for capital spending on not just Magilligan prison but on the much needed women’s facility and the upgrading of accommodation at Maghaberry?” the minister said at Stormont.
SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat asked the minister “what preparatory work has been done to give confidence to the 300 people who work there and the families of people who prefer their family members to be there rather than in that other place called Maghaberry?”
Mr Ford said the business case has involved all aspects of the running of the prison, including looking at future arrangements for training, job skills, healthcare and staffing.
He said the fundamental issue “is not whether the DoJ is committed to the developments needed at Magilligan and the other prisons, but whether the capital is available”
Mr Ford said it requires “a joined-up Executive decision”, and added: “It is not even just a matter for the Justice and Finance Departments, but will require the Executive, as a whole, to prepare a capital programme.”