Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Thursday, 29 March 2012 16:46 UK

Justice Committee

The outgoing Director-General of the Prison Service (NIPS) was accused of not caring about the future of prison officers taking part in an early retirement scheme, on 29 March 2012.

Colin McConnell had recently been appointed chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service and was due to take up the job in May 2012.

The DUP's Jim Wells said a decision to let the officers go on 31 March 2012, rather than 6 April would mean they paid thousands of pounds more in tax on their severance payments.

Mr Wells put it to Mr McConnell that, "you're on your way out and you couldn't care less about these men".

"That's effectively taking £2,000 and throwing it down the (River) Lagan," he added.

Mr McConnell said he resented "the allegation of callousness".

He was appearing before the committee to outline the details of a new framework for the corporate governance of NIPS.

The Director-General said NIPS had made significant progress in the past 15 months but there was much work still to be done.

"We are on the cusp of an incomparable agreement with our trade union," he commented.

Earlier in the session, the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman, Karamjit Singh, briefed the committee on his work.

Committee chairperson Paul Givan of the DUP asked if it was correct that Mr Singh had dealt with only five complaints in five years.

Mr Singh said he currently dealing with a sixth.

Sinn Fein's Sean Lynch said that the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission was seen by some as "the judiciary appointing the judiciary".

Mr Singh said there were some concerns around gender and ethnicity in judicial appointments in Northern Ireland, and he outlined some of the possible means of remedying the problem.

Justice committee membership


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