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Revealed: How many Northern Ireland prisoners allowed home for Christmas?

Scores of prisoners have today been unshackled from their chains and released from prison for Christmas leave.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has confirmed that 93 lags will be heading home for Christmas in a break from daily life behind bars.

Over half of those released (51) are from the maximum security Maghaberry jail which holds some of Northern Ireland's most dangerous men.

At Magillian, 35 will be released while four young men and three women are being released from Hydebank Wood College.

Their periods of temporary release have been granted for varying periods from December 23 until January 3. Conditions have been placed on all successful applicants.

All prisoners granted Christmas Home Leave have been the subject of a satisfactory risk assessment and have either successfully completed a home leave programme or undergone periods of unaccompanied testing in the community, the Prison Service said.

Those released must be within three years of their jail term's end, have been recommended for release by parole commissioners and have suddessfully completed an unaccompanied overnight release in the past.

Only those sentenced before October 31 are eligible.

Remand prisoners are not eligible for Christmas Home Leave.

Northern Ireland prisons currently hold 1,445 people.

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