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Security fears as prison boss leaves phone in Belfast restaurant

By David Young

Published 05/08/2016

Sue McAllister
Sue McAllister
The tweet that was deleted
Finlay Spratt

Security concerns have been voiced after it emerged that the director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service lost her mobile phone in a Belfast restaurant.

Sue McAllister tweeted her thanks to the staff of Havana Bank Sq restaurant in Belfast city centre for helping her find it, making it public knowledge that she had lost it.

The tweet that was deleted
The tweet that was deleted

It comes as prison officers remain under threat by dissident republicans, and just days after an undercar booby trap bomb was found in Lisburn city centre - with speculation that it had fallen off the car of its intended victim.

Earlier this year, prison officer Adrian Ismay died from his injuries after a device exploded under his van in Belfast, and in November 2012 serving prison officer David Black was shot dead as he drove along the M1 towards work at Maghaberry Prison.

Ms McAllister, originally from Yorkshire, was appointed to lead the Prison Service four years ago.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice insisted the phone was a personal one which contained no sensitive information, however within minutes of the issue being raised by the Belfast Telegraph last night the tweet was deleted.

Ms McAllister broadcast on social media that she had left her phone behind in the popular Belfast restaurant close to the CastleCourt shopping complex.

In a Twitter posting, the NI Prison Service director thanked staff at the restaurant for retrieving the phone.

"Thank you to the lovely staff at @HavanaBankSq who looked after my phone until my also lovely colleagues retrieved it for me #service" she tweeted.

As director general of the prison service, Sue McAllister's phone could have contained highly sensitive contact information, including confidential phone numbers for senior staff in a service which continues to be targeted by terrorists.

Finlay Spratt of the Prison Officers' Association said that the director "was not the type of lady to keep sensitive information on her private phone".

"I'd be very surprised if she had done anything like that," he said last night.

Sue McAllister was appointed director general of the NI Prison Service in 2012, replacing Colin McConnell, who lasted just a year in the job before accepting a post in Scotland.

The NI Prison Service remains under constant threat from dissident republican activists.

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