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 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 07:18 GMT
Prison staff may resume strike
Magilligan Prison
Police provided security cover during previous action
The Prison Officers' Association has indicated it could take fresh industrial action after about 150 officers were allegedly cut from government security schemes.

The officers' names were found on suspected IRA intelligence files.

Prison officers held previous protest action in a dispute over security measures offered to officers.

This followed the discovery of staff details on a computer during a police investigation into an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont last year.

This is totally unacceptable and I can see us out protesting again

Finlay Spratt
POA

About 1,400 officers' names were found on a list recovered by police.

Prison Officers' Association chairman Finlay Spratt said officers who thought they qualified had now been refused because their current addresses did not feature on the files.

"We settled this dispute but now they are weeding people out and refusing them," he said.

"This is totally unacceptable and I can see us out protesting again."

'Turned down'

During past strike action, police officers were called in to staff the prisons.

It had been agreed all officers on the list could access one of three schemes to move house or install new home alarm systems.

Finlay Spratt
Finlay Spratt: "About 150 have been turned down"

However, Mr Spratt said many officers who thought they qualified were refused as their addresses did not feature on recovered files.

"About 150 have been turned down when we were assured everybody whose name was on the list was included," he said.

"Names, rank and place of work were included, so I don't think it's good enough to use the excuse that an address has not been compromised when that information is already known.

"The government is nit-picking and penny-pinching. People were allowed to move and now they are coming back and saying 'you can't'."

A Northern Ireland Prisons Service spokeswoman said a final decision had not been made on every case.

"We have approved over 80% of all applications to a range of schemes for staff whose details were compromised," she said.

"A number of applications are still being considered."

It is illegal for the officers to go on strike.

See also:

22 Nov 02 | N Ireland
21 Nov 02 | N Ireland
20 Nov 02 | N Ireland
12 Nov 02 | N Ireland
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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