Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 13:58 UK

Prisoner group holds Belfast Marathon protest

Protestors on Falls Road
A number of protestors held up placards during the race

A prisoner support group has held a protest during the Belfast Marathon.

Supporters of dissident republican inmates gathered on the Falls Road and held up placards as athletes ran by.

The group says it wants to highlight 'unacceptable conditions' for republican prisoners being held in jails in Northern Ireland.

In a statement, the NI Prison Service said it was delivering its duty of care to all prisoners and it was their choice whether to avail of facilities.

However, one protestor, Aine McLaughlin, claimed her husband is subjected to lock-up for 23 hours per day.


She said that during a protest at Easter when dissident republican prisoners barricaded themselves into a dining room at Maghaberry prison, they had been denied basic amenities.

"They turned off the electric which nobody knows about, turned off the heating, and turned off the water supply so there's issues there that people on the outside don't actually know about," Ms McLaughlin added.

At the time a statement from a group linked to the Continuity IRA said 16 prisoners had taken part in the dining room protest because of the use of sniffer dogs for searching visitors and inmates not being allowed to wear Easter lillies.

In a statement on Monday, the Prison Service said: "The current regime at Maghaberry consists of daily exercise and access to education, the gym and astroturf, showers, telephones and visits in accordance with statutory entitlement.

"It is the personal choice of prisoners whether or not they wish to avail of the regime on offer.

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