Justice Minister cuts first sod for new block in Maghaberry

Date published: 19 July 2016

Justice Minister Claire Sugden today cut the first sod in preparation for the construction of a new cell block at Maghaberry Prison.

Justice Minister cuts first sod at Maghaberry

A high security facility housing adult male prisoners, Maghaberry is the largest of three prisons that make up the Northern Ireland Prison Service.  The new accommodation block, costing £55million, will include 360 cells on three levels and is expected to be completed by 2019.

Claire Sugden said: “This occasion marks an important step in the development of the prison estate in Northern Ireland.  The new block will deliver modern and fit for purpose accommodation and allow at least three old square house blocks to be closed.  Its design and specification will improve efficiency and create a decent and respectful environment for both staff and prisoners.

“This represents a significant investment in Maghaberry which will eventually see the site developing as three mini prisons.”

On her first visit to Maghaberry, the Minister was joined by Director General of the NI Prison Service Sue McAllister and also met the new Maghaberry Governor, Stephen Davis.  The Governor gave an overview of the establishment and outlined the ongoing work at the prison to deliver a safe, decent and secure environment for the rehabilitation of prisoners. 

Sue McAllister said: “Investment in the prison estate in Northern Ireland is fundamental to the ongoing modernisation of the prison service.  The creation of an additional 360 cell accommodation block at Maghaberry is a one key element of NIPS strategy to deliver a fit for purpose estate. Modern and well-designed accommodation encourages positive engagement between staff and prisoners and facilitates the delivery of better tailored regimes to assist prisoners in addressing their offending behaviour.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Maghaberry Prison is the largest of three prisons that make up the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Maghaberry is the only category ‘A’ high security prison and operates as the committal prison for all adult male prisoners including remand prisoners, sentenced prisoners including life-sentenced prisoners, indeterminate, extended custody and separated loyalist and republican prisoners as well as fine defaulters.

2. At June 2016, there were 823 prisoners in Maghaberry.

3. A design, build and maintenance contract was awarded to Henry Brothers in March 2016.  Construction is due to commence with the planned completion and handover scheduled for 2019.  The estimated cost for the design and build of the Maghaberry 360 Cell Accommodation Block is now approximately £55m.

4. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 90526444.  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.

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