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'Ongoing incident' involving dissident republican prisoners at high security jail

The prisoners are protesting over living conditions.

Updated 4.55pm

PRISON AUTHORITIES IN Northern Ireland are dealing with what has been described as an ‘ongoing incident’ this afternoon.

It’s understood the building involved is Roe House, part of Maghaberry Prison in Antrim, where dissident republican inmates are held separately.

A prison service spokesperson told that the prisoners are campaigning for more control for themselves in the prison.

He also described the prisoners behavior as ‘really disobedient’ saying it was ‘becoming the norm’.

Maghaberry is the North’s only high-security jail, it holds men convicted of serious offences and remand prisoners awaiting trial in separated and integrated conditions.

Prison officers say they are working to bring the protest to a resolution.

Maghaberry prison shooting The front gates at the entrance of Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland. PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

A statement released by Republican Political Prisoners late last month said that inmates at Roe House believe changes to the structure of the prison have ‘further reduced our already limited space and further impeded our movement within our wing’.

“Corridors and doorways leading from our landings into areas such as the canteen and yard have been replaced with obstacle courses of multiple turnstiles and steel doors,” the statement claimed.

Furthermore, steel birdcages have been erected to cage us like animals in certain areas of the landing.

A cross-party group of Dáil TDs have this afternoon expressed concern over the alleged use of the riot squad during this afternoon’s stand-off.

They are calling for the North’s Justice Minister David Ford to intervene in the dispute, and explain why the unit was used and what injuries were sustained.

However, Finlay Spratt of the Prison Officers’ Association told Belfast Telegraph that ‘there is no riot’, and no one has been injured.

The group consists of independents Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan, Thomas Pringle, along with ULA TD Clare Daly and Fianna Fáil’s Eamonn O’Cuiv, who “over the past number of years have made repeated visits to Maghaberry and have met both Republican and Loyalist prisoners”.

Additional reporting by Nicky Ryan. Originally published 3.33pm

Read: ‘The most memorable thing about jail? Helping IRA members escape on a helicopter’>

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