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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Jail integration 'recipe for disaster'
Maghaberry jail
A safety review of the prison was announced

Integrating loyalist and republican inmates in a Northern Ireland prison is a recipe for disaster, according to a former assembly member.

Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party believes paramilitary prisoners can be kept apart without surrendering control of the prisons.

Tensions have been high at Maghaberry Prison, outside Lisburn in County Antrim in recent weeks, with both loyalist and republican prisoners staging protests to demand segregation.

The Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, is due to consider a report on segregation when he returns to work next week.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme on Saturday, Mr Wilson said: "I don't think that it is necessarily the case that by separating prisoners you allow paramilitary structures to dictate what happens in the prisons.

"I have spoken to prison officers - if structures are going to be set up, why not move prisoners around?

"But there is no need to follow a political line that we want to integrate prisoners and it doesn't really matter what the consequences of that are."

Earlier this month, the loyalist Ulster Defence Association began a poster campaign demanding segregation from republicans.

Safety review

Dissident republican prisoners also staged dirty protests in a bid to be separated from loyalists.

Loyalist and republican inmates have also been involved in roof-top protests at the jail, which have caused disruption to prison visits.

In June, Roe House in Maghaberry was the scene of a roof-top protest involving eight loyalists, dissident republicans and non-paramilitary inmates in the jail.

It ended peacefully after the protesters spent one night on the roof.

Mr announced a safety review at the prison following the protests and attacks on prison officers' homes.

The consultation was to be led by John Steele, who was head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service from 1987 to 1992, and a former head of security policy for the Northern Ireland Office.

Safety review at Maghaberry
05 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Roof-top prison protest over
28 Jun 03  |  Northern Ireland
Report brands jail 'unsafe'
26 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland
Segregation demand haunts prison service
29 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland

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