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Monday, March 16, 1998 Published at 07:40 GMT


Poyntzpass suspect murdered in prison
image: [ David Keys was being held for the murder of Damien Trainor and Philip Allen ]
David Keys was being held for the murder of Damien Trainor and Philip Allen

Northern Ireland's Maze prison is at the centre of a security crisis after the RUC said a man being held for the Poyntzpass double killing had been murdered.

David Keys, 26, was found hanging in his loyalist wing cell early on Sunday and authorities at first ruled out foul play.

[ image: Security at the Maze has been strongly criticised in the past]
Security at the Maze has been strongly criticised in the past
But following a post mortem examination, an RUC spokesman said: "This death is being treated as murder."

Mr Keys, 26, was one of four men accused of murdering two friends shot in a County Armagh pub a fortnight ago. He had denied the killings

Maze "out of control"

Unionist MPs have called for an immediate inquiry into the running of the top security Maze prison, claiming Mr Key's death, following on from a string of security breaches, meant the prison was out of control.

Peter Hunt reports on the murder inquiry from Belfast for BBC News 24 (2' 09")
The death also comes as the province's leaders gather in Washington for St Patrick's day celebrations with President Bill Clinton who is throwing his weight behind efforts for peace.

Mr Keys had been in the Loyalist Volunteer Force wing at the jail and it is understood that there were no other groups on the wing before Mr Key's death.

He was charged last Wednesday along with three other men with the murders of Protestant Philip Allen, 34, and Catholic Damien Trainer, 25, who died when gunmen opened fire on customers at the Railway Bar, Poyntzpass.

History of recent problems

Mr Keys is the second loyalist prisoner to be murdered at the Maze since Christmas.

[ image: Maze prison is now in chaos say unionists]
Maze prison is now in chaos say unionists
INLA gunmen shot dead LVF leader Billy Wright just days after an IRA prisoner escaped from the jail dressed as a woman.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley tonight demanded an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister.

He was joined by other Unionists who said the Maze was now in chaos. DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "This murder means the jail is no longer under the control of the prison authorities.

Ian Paisley Jnr of the DUP : 'The minister should appoint an inquiry immediately' (2'01")
"The government can no longer cover up what is going on in there and a full, sworn judicial inquiry is now an absolute imperative."

The Keys murder is bound to intensify pressure in the Northern Ireland prison service.

Alan Shannon, head of the service, has faced calls to go since the Wright killing and the escape of IRA man Liam Averill before Christmas.

Last March, an escape tunnel was found as the IRA prepared for a mass break-out.

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