Former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan has visited Magilligan Prison to speak with inmates about his experiences in the Middle East and his life since.
Over 33 years ago, on April 11, 1986, the Belfast native was captured by terrorist group Islamic Jihad in Lebanon.
The author of ‘An Evil Cradling’ spent four-and-a-half years in a concrete cell - often in solitary confinement, blind-folded, interrogated, chained half-naked and beaten by his captors.
But life today for the writer and broadcaster, living happily with his family, couldn’t be further from the kidnapping ordeal he endured.
Earlier this week Brian was guest speaker at the presentation of creative writing awards to prisoners in Magilligan.
Ronnie Armour, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, said: “Brian’s philosophical outlook on life is truly inspiring and especially so after an inconceivable four-and-a-half year kidnapping ordeal.
“He has spoken about surviving the odds and finding peace of mind in surprising places, and his words will have given great hope and encouragement to the men in our care.
“This is all about building self-esteem in prisoners, supporting and challenging them to change, which in turn will help reduce re-offending and ultimately make our community a safer place to live.”
Dr Damian O’Kane, Head of Education at the Magilligan campus of North West Regional College said: “We are delighted that students in Magilligan have been awarded an unprecedented number of Koestler Awards in Creative Writing, Art and Barbering. It is fitting that Brian Keenan, who is a truly inspirational figure and a strong advocate of the power of education to transform lives, has shared his life experiences with our students and thereby encouraging them to continue on their educational journey.”
Fred Caulfield, Executive Director of the Prison Arts Foundation, said: “Creative arts has an important role to play in rehabilitation. Many offenders – and ex-offenders – who participate in the Koestler Awards find it a rewarding experience and the written feedback they receive from judges boosts self-esteem and confidence.”