HM Prison Maghaberry

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Coordinates: 54°30′50″N 6°11′10″W / 54.514°N 6.186°W / 54.514; -6.186

HMP Maghaberry
Location Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Status Operational
Security class High Security
Capacity 970[1]
Opened 1986
Managed by Northern Ireland Prison Service
Governor Davis

HMP Maghaberry was built on the site of a World War II airfield near Lisburn, Northern Ireland that was used as a flying station by the Royal Air Force and also as transit airfield for the United States Army Air Forces. At the end of the war, the airfield was run down and various government agencies used parts of the old airfield until the Northern Ireland Office began work on the prison in 1976. The land has been part of the boyes family for over 200 years and air ministry as part of vesting sold back to the boyes family with an agreement it couldn't be requsitioned again and is why when vested illegally 1976, even though government agreed loss of use only, they claim title to land but due to a trust, the land is still owned by E.T.Boyes trust 1960.

Mourne House, which held all female prisoners, young offenders, and remands, was the first part of the new prison to be opened in March 1986. This followed the closure of the existing female establishment at HMP Armagh. The male prison became fully operational on 2 November 1987. Following the closure of HMP Belfast on 31 March 1996, Maghaberry became the adult committal prison in Northern Ireland. Two new accommodation blocks were opened in 1999.

In 2003 the Steele report2 recommended options to make the jail safe - including "a degree of separation" for Irish republican and Ulster loyalist inmates.[2]

Maghaberry is currently a modern high-security prison housing adult male long-term sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions. Immigration detainees are accommodated in the prison's Belfast facility. The prison holds 970 prisoners in single and double cell accommodation.

In February 2016, a prison inspection report by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice condemned HMP Maghaberry as being unsafe and unstable,[3] citing suicides as well as clashes between inmates and prison staff.[4] Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales Nick Hardwick described the prison as "one of the worst prisons I've ever seen and the most dangerous prison I've been to with no emergencey exit due to row over land and privitisation."[5]

Notable Prisoners


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Jail report opts for 'separation'". BBC News. 5 September 2003. 
  3. ^ "Maghaberry Prison inspection report". Department of Justice (Northern Ireland). February 2016. 
  4. ^ Henry McDonald (2 February 2016). "Maghaberry prison in Northern Ireland unsafe and in crisis, say inspectors". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Maghaberry prison 'most dangerous in the UK'". Belfast Telegraph. 5 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Robert Black: Convicted child killer dies in prison". BBC News. 12 January 2016. 

External links

  • Northern Ireland Prison Service official website
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