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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 18:34 GMT
Interrogation centre to close

Castlereagh holding centre is to close Castlereagh holding centre is to close

One of the main police centres for the interrogation of terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland is to close by the end of the month.

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The RUC said in a statement on Friday the decision to shut the Castlereagh Holding Centre in east Belfast was a further step in the progressive scaling down of security measures.

Thousands of republican and loyalist paramilitaries have been questioned at Castlereagh over the last 30 years, which has been at the centre of controversy over claims of police ill-treatment.

The RUC's two other main holding centres in Londonderry and Armagh are to remain.

The closure was one of the 175 recommendations by the Patten report into the future of policing arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Police statement

A police statement said: "Notwithstanding threats posed by dissidents, the decision is as a result of the overall improving security situation and a consequence of an on-going review of policing needs."

The move has been welcomed by Monsignor Denis Faul, a former prison chaplain to the Maze Prison, and an outspoken critic of the Castlereagh centre.

Mgr Faul said: "It is the end of a very bad chapter."

He said he had listed what he called "some very bad atrocities" at Castlereagh up until 1979.

"Amnesty International came over in December in '78 and they conducted a very good investigation.

According to Mgr Faul, changes came in the late 70s after the doctors who examined the prisoners coming out of Castlereagh before they were sent to Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast complained that the prisoners were being ill treated.

He said: "We use to ring up every day about people who were detained there.

"It was a dreadful place."
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