Justice Minister Naomi Long has welcomed the Prison Service’s decision to run a number of virtual visits on Christmas Day – a first for the Service.
The Minister also commended prison staff for their work to support people in their care through the pandemic with over 25,000 virtual visits taking place since their introduction in April.
Naomi Long said: “Having even a small number of virtual visits for people in prison on Christmas Day is a fantastic achievement by everyone in the Northern Ireland Prison Service. This is the first time this has happened and I want to commend everyone involved for making it possible.
“Keeping prisoners connected with their families is a key part of rehabilitation and this will allow some people with young children, and some foreign nationals, the opportunity to engage and connect with their loved ones at this special time of the year.
“The pandemic has been very challenging for us all, and that includes our prisons. However I have seen for myself the tremendous work prison staff are doing to support the people in our care. This is just a further example of how they are at the cutting edge of rehabilitation in these difficult times. Finally I would like to wish everyone associated with our prisons, and in particular those staff who will be working over the next few weeks, a peaceful and happy Christmas.”
The initiative was also praised by the Prison Service Director General Ronnie Armour.
Ronnie Armour said: “Having some virtual visits on Christmas Day demonstrates how our staff continue to find new ways to support the people in our care. Since April Prison staff have delivered over 25,000 such visits across our three prisons which has been invaluable in keeping families connected throughout the pandemic.
“This year has been very challenging for our staff, partners and those in our care. I am immensely proud of how our staff have risen to those challenges and I want to thank each of them for their professionalism and service throughout 2020.”
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption: Zoom visits for prisoners on Christmas Day are to take place for the first time ever in Northern Ireland this year. Ronnie Armour, Director General of the NI Prison Service, and Richard Taylor, Magilligan Prison Governor, are pictured in one of the special zoom visit booths at Magilligan Prison.
- There are three prison establishments in Northern Ireland - Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood College and Women’s Prison. The Prison Service College is located at Hydebank Wood College.
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