Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 12:51 UK

Maghaberry prisoners end protest

Maghaberry Prison

A protest by dissident republican prisoners, who barricaded themselves into a dining room at Maghaberry prison, has ended.

The prison service said it ended peacefully, but it is not known if the prisoners gave themselves up or if the threat of force was used.

The prisoners were 16 Continuity IRA members, 10 Real IRA and two INLA.

A group linked to the Continuity IRA said the protest, which started on Sunday, was over prison conditions.

It said this included lock-downs, the use of sniffer dogs for searching visitors and prisoners not being allowed to wear Easter lilies.

The prison service said the prisoners returned voluntarily to their cells, a move that was observed by members of the Independent Monitoring Board.


Prisoners are only allowed to wear the lilies - a symbol of the 1916 Rising - in their cells.

The relatives of some prisoners claimed that a work to rule by staff, had also affected conditions in the jail.

Geraldine Taylor from Republican Sinn Fein, which is linked to the Continuity IRA said: "They just decided enough is enough, which we totally agree with and they're not going to take it lying down any longer.

"That was really the reason because they're locked up for 23 hours. During that period they don't get fed, they don't get water, they don't get using the showers, they don't get out for exercise or anything else.

"Mentally, they just explode."

The Prison Service said all prisoners in Maghaberry are being cared for in a safe and humane manner and it strongly refutes claims that prisoners are subject to a 23-hour lock-up.

The prisoners involved in the protest may be charged under prison rules.

Earlier in the protest Army bomb experts were called to examine a suspicious object thrown into a corridor outside the dining room . It was later declared a hoax.

Prison authorities cancelled visits to the jail on Sunday as the stand-off continued.

No visits had been due to take place at the prison on Monday or Tuesday. The Prison Service said visits will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.

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