HC Deb 30 June 2004 vol 423 c268
3. Lady Hermon (North Down) (UUP)

What alternatives to HMP Maghaberry have been identified by the Department as appropriate accommodation for asylum seekers in Northern Ireland. [180482]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ian Pearson)

Currently, 140 people are supported by the National Asylum Support Service in Northern Ireland. A total of 14 immigrant detainees are currently accommodated by the Prison Service. One is temporarily in Maghaberry, three are in Hydebank Wood and 10 are in hostel-type accommodation adjacent to the old Crumlin Road jail. All 14 have been offered the option of being held in a detention centre in Great Britain.

Lady Hermon

I am grateful for that detailed response but I remain unhappy and concerned about the conditions in which asylum seekers are kept at various locations in Northern Ireland. Will the Minister please facilitate a visit by me and representatives of various Churches to all the locations where asylum seekers are currently held?

Mr. Pearson

I would certainly be very happy to facilitate the visits that the hon. Lady requests. She will be interested to know that the Law Centre and Amnesty International have viewed the accommodation at the outworking centre by the Crumlin Road jail, and said that it is far more suitable than the accommodation at Maghaberry prison. I hope that she will take some reassurance from that.