ic NorthernIreland - Prison Denies Assault on Republicans

Prison Denies Assault on Republicans Aug 11 2003

By Gary Kelly

THE Prison Service has denied claims from dissident republicans that three visitors were assaulted and detained at Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim.

The claim was made by Marion Price of the Irish Republican Welfare Association.

She said the assault took place when a brother and two friends of a republican inmate were refused entry to see him after a sniffer dog sat down in front of them.

Ms Price said that, when the men raised objections, they were assaulted by prison officers.

"Apparently, the riot squad were sent for and, immediately, when they arrived, they started to beat the three young men,'' she said.

A Prison Service spokesman said that three visitors were taken to the reception area when they refused to follow staff instructions but denied that they had been beaten up.

"When they refused, the visitors were removed by staff to the visitors' reception where they were detained by the police.

"The Prison Service absolutely refute any allegation of mistreatment.''

Earlier yesterday, a threeday rooftop protest at Maghaberry ended.

Staff removed one of the inmates at around 4am while the other two came down voluntarily just before 8am.

The protest began on Thursday as a Governmentappointed review team visited the jail as part of its inquiry into staff and inmates' concerns.

Tensions have been running high at the prison in recent months with demands for segregation by dissident republicans and loyalists.

A number of republicans are engaged in a ''dirty protest''.

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