Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 18:24 UK

Republican prisoners' Maghaberry protest goes on

Maghaberry Prison
Republican prisoners barricaded themselves into the jail dining room

Twenty-eight republican prisoners at Maghaberry jail are still barricaded into a room there.

They locked themselves into the dining room at Roe House after Mass on Easter Sunday morning.

Army bomb experts were called to examine a suspicious object thrown into a corridor outside the room. It was later found to be a hoax.

The men have been in the room since about 1000 BST on Sunday when they attended Easter Mass.

Sunday's visits to the prison were cancelled and prisoners' families who arrived at Maghaberry were turned away.

The wife of one prisoner who was unable to make a planned visit because of the stand-off, criticised the lack of information about what was happening at the jail.

"It was very disappointing. When you are getting up once a week ... The children could not see their father," she said.

"We were given no information about why we could not go in and visit."

'Collective punishment'

Ken Wilkinson of the Progressive Unionist Party said he was concerned that all prisoners were being punished because of the republican protest.

"The main thing is the disruption to families. A lot of these prisoners are on remand - they are innocent until proven guilty.

"This is a collective punishment where there is a section of prisoners who are protesting and everyone else is affected," he said.

Mr Wilkinson said there was a complaints system and a prisoner ombudsman in place to deal with prisoners' complaints.

He said he was not aware that any loyalists had taken part in the protest, but they had lost their visiting rights because of this.

Mr Wilkinson said he had complained to the Northern Ireland Office about the lack of information.

No visits had been due to take place at the prison on Monday or Tuesday. A prison service spokesman said details about visits for the rest of the week would be confirmed later.

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