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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 15:19 GMT
Pagan inmates to observe festival
More than 300 registered Pagans are in Britain's prisons
Pagan prisoners in Britain are to be given time off work duties to allow them to observe a religious festival on the day of Halloween.

Pagans observe the Celtic New Year's Eve on 31 October, which they see as Britain's indigenous New Year event.

The Home Office, which agreed to the move, said it was committed to treating all prisoners with decency, which included respecting all religions.

There are more than 300 registered Pagans in Britain's prisons.

Cerridwen Connelly, who is a druid, believes it is an important decision.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The main issue in this country today is getting more religious tolerance.

"We can't say its okay for Muslims and Hindus but Pagans are second-class citizens. It has to be fairly done and this is one way of doing it."

Ms Connelly, known as "dragon oak", added that people should be given the right to "celebrate their chosen spirituality on certain days of the year".

Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, said he believed "there should be fairness across all religions" in prison.

But he said Pagans should have been asked about when they preferred to celebrate the event.

He pointed out that it is an evening festival, whereas the duties inmates were being relieved from were to be carried out during the day.


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