HC Deb 28 November 1974 vol 882 cc598-9
2. Mr. Bradford

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to separate Loyalist prisoners and detainees from Republican prisoners and detainees by removing the former to Crumlin Road Prison.

Mr. Orme

In the Maze and Magilligan Prisons Loyalist prisoners and detainees are already housed in compounds separate from Republican prisoners and detainees. As rebuilding of the Maze proceeds, further steps will be taken to ensure the segregation of these different classes of prisoner.

There are at present no plans to move any particular groups of prisoners or detainees to Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast.

Mr. Bradford

Does the Minister accept that the immediate or early complete separation, in separate prisons, of the prisoners and detainees from the two communities would, first, reduce the understandable agitation of relatives and friends of Loyalist prisoners and, second, increase the discipline in prisons in which Republicans are detained or imprisoned, by making more Army and prison officers available to deal with insurrection?

Mr. Orme

The problem is not only one of segregation of Republican and Loyalist prisoners. The Government are also under some pressure to segregate different groups within the Loyalist and Republican categories. That in itself creates a major problem for the Government.

Mr. Mahon

Is the Minister satisfied with what seems to some of us the facile practice in Questions of describing people as "Loyalist" or "Republican" prisoners, when both may have committed exactly similar crimes?

Mr. Orme

I take the point.

Mr. Kilfedder

Will the Minister do something about the young persons who are in the Maze Prison? I believe that they are too much under the influence of those put there for terrorist offences. Is it possible to put them somewhere else?

Mr. Orme

The Government are looking at that point.

17. Mr. Carson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria he intends to use when deciding the issue of Christmas parole for prisoners and detainees in Northern Ireland prisons.

Mr. Orme

A Christmas parole scheme for sentenced prisoners has been operated in Northern Ireland since 1948 and will be operated again this year. To be eligible, a prisoner must not have served a previous term of imprisonment, have been committed to prison before 30th September this year, and have served half his effective sentence. My right hon. Friend also takes into account the recommendation of the governor, the conduct of the prisoner while in prison, and other security matters. The scheme does not apply to detainees.

Mr. Carson

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that many prisoners and detainees have suffered severe hardships over the past months, as have their families and next-of-kin? Will he give favourable consideration to a request by those prisoners and detainees for a Christmas parole?

Mr. Orme

I have told the hon. Gentleman that the same rules are to apply this year as applied previously. I have said that the scheme does not apply to detainees. In a sense, detainees have a much more advantageous parole system throughout the year than do normal prisoners.

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