Belfast Telegraph

New post for suicide row governor

A prison governor removed from his post after the suicide of an inmate in Northern Ireland has been appointed head of Magilligan prison.

Alan Longwell left Maghaberry jail after a damning report into the death of an inmate who hanged himself in his cell in August 2008.

The Department of Justice confirmed, however, that Mr Longwell had been appointed governor at Magilligan prison.

The death of Colin Bell led to several night custody officers facing disciplinary charges and three senior prison officers were also charged. Some night custody officers slept or watched television while Bell, who had a history of self-harming, hanged himself with a makeshift ligature.

He should have been monitored every 15 minutes by night custody officers but his body was not discovered until around 40 minutes after his death. Bell, 34, was serving a life sentence for murder and had made 73 calls to the Samaritans from his specially adapted suicide watch cell.

The new director-general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Colin McConnell, announced several senior appointments and said the organisation was in a position to move forward quickly as it prepared to undertake widespread reform.

He said: "These are key appointments for the Northern Ireland Prison Service as we embark on a programme of fundamental reform."

Pat Maguire has been appointed governor at Maghaberry, with Austin Treacy as deputy governor.

The director-general added: "Both Pat and Alan have a wealth of experience as governors within the Northern Ireland Prison Service. However, and more importantly, they have confirmed that they are committed to driving through the necessary reforms we must undertake."

Governors will report directly to Mr McConnell.

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