Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 08:28 UK

Maghaberry lock-down claims rejected

Maghaberry Prison
The protest at Maghaberry started on Sunday

Prisoners at Maghaberry Prison are not subject to 23-hour lock-up, the prison service has said.

It follows claims made by dissident republicans after a two-day protest by 28 prisoners who barricaded themselves into a dining room on Sunday.

A group linked to the Continuity IRA said the protest was over prison conditions, including lock-downs.

However, in a statement the prison service said inmates were "cared for in a safe and humane manner".

"The prison service strongly refutes claims that prisoners are subject to a 23-hour lock-up - this is not the case," it added.

The prisoners who took part in the incident were 16 Continuity IRA members, 10 Real IRA and two INLA.

On Tuesday, Republican Sinn Fein, which is linked to the Continuity IRA, said the prisoners were protesting over lock-downs, the use of sniffer dogs for searching visitors and prisoners not being allowed to wear Easter lilies.

The group's Geraldine Taylor 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."

The prison service said prisoners are allowed to wear the lily - a symbol of the 1916 Easter Rising - in their cells but not in communal areas of the prison.

"This policy has been judicially reviewed on several occasions and each time the judiciary have found in favour of the prison service," it said.

The service added that those prisoner who barricaded themselves into the dining room could face charges under prison rules.

Prison visits are resuming as normal on Wednesday.

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