Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Declan Kearney MLA, has expressed his shock and deep concern following the publication of the Prison Ombudsman’s report into an investigation surrounding the serious self-harm by Sean Lynch at Maghaberry Prison in 2014.
Mr Kearney said:
“The report, published today, makes a total of 63 recommendations to the Prison Service and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT).
"I am deeply shocked at the detail of the Ombudsman’s Report.
“It is clear that both the Prison Service and the SEHSCT failed in their obligations to ensure the care of Sean Lynch.
"It is appalling that Prison Service staff watched him inflict terrible injuries upon himself for a period of over an hour while he shouted and cried in pain.
"This case points towards an institutional culture which appears to give primacy to a security mindset within the Prison Service over the care and safety of prisoners in Maghaberry.
“It has disturbing implications for the achievement of comprehensive prison reform.
"The Ombudsman's report also raises cross-departmental issues for the welfare of prison inmates.
“I have already discussed this case with the new Minister for Health, Michelle O'Neill, who requested a report from the SEHSCT earlier today.
“I also understand that Minister O'Neill has had discussions with the Minister for Justice about the prevalence of mental illness in the prison population and I welcome their commitment to working together to tackle this problem.
"I will be seeking a meeting with the Prison Ombudsman to discuss his recommendations and wider prison reform issues.
“I also intend to request a meeting with the Director General of the Prison Service to demand urgent action and ensure that such a scandal never happens again.
"Sinn Féin has already indicated to the Maghaberry Prison management that we will be returning to the prison shortly to engage further with inmates in relation to conditions on the integrated wings."