Belfast Telegraph

Prisoner becomes the third suicide victim at Maghaberry this year

By Chris Kilpatrick

Investigations are under way after a man was found dead in his cell in an apparent suicide at Maghaberry Prison.

Efforts to revive Michael McDonagh, who it is understood was a member of the Travelling community, were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 1.40am yesterday.

Mr McDonagh's death inside the high-security prison near Lisburn takes to three the number of inmates believed to have taken their own lives at the facility this year.

The prisoner was on remand facing robbery charges.

A ligature was also found in his cell.

Investigations are ongoing and the PSNI, coroner and Prisoner Ombudsman — as well as Mr McDonagh's family — have been notified.

Prison Service Director General Sue McAllister said: “I would extend my sympathy and that of the Northern Ireland Prison Service to the family of Mr McDonagh.

“This is a tragedy and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Tom Elliott, Ulster Unionist Justice spokesperson, said he was “deeply concerned” at the death.

“Obviously this incident is subject to due process with the PSNI, coroner and Prisoner Ombudsman having all been informed,” he said.

“The Prisoner Ombudsman will carry out a full investigation as with all deaths in custody.

“It is disturbing that the circumstances within a custodial setting were such that a young man could take his own life whilst on remand and I will be raising this issue with the Justice Minister (David Ford).”

In June, a solicitor claimed the prison is awash with drugs.

He was responding to a report on the death of 21-year-old Aaron Hogg, who hanged himself in his cell in May last year after taking a cocktail of drugs.

He was the third prisoner to die in custody in a matter of weeks.

There have been 30 deaths in custody in Northern Ireland since the Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe took over responsibility for investigating fatalities behind bars in September 2005.

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