Belfast Telegraph

Is the price right for Marion's cell upgrade?

By Lindy McDowell

Any regular reader of this column will know I am not a fan of terror suspects in general. But I'm not sure if I'd go along with the outrage over the refurbishment of the prison block where republican Marion Price is currently being held.

Over two grand has been spent on the Maghaberry unit where she is currently the sole occupant. (She has been charged with providing a mobile phone for the purposes of terrorism. This charge is linked to the murders of two soldiers at Masserene barracks in 2009.)

The accommodation at Maghaberry apparently had to be refurbished so that it was on a par with that provided for other female prisoners at Hydebank. Critics, however, are angry, particularly since some of this money has been spent on a couple of flat screen TVs.

Would they be happier if the prison authorities had forked out on a couple of old fashioned "fat" tellys? Aren't the prison bosses under some sort of obligation to ensure value for taxpayers' money - which would entail buying equipment that will last a few years?

Given the range of items they appear to have acquired - the two tellys, a DVD player, digi-box, carpets, curtains, soft furnishings, bedclothes, bookcase, coffee table, pictures, lamp, computer, picnic bench, summer seat, 18 pots and planters and flowers, the bean cruncher concerned might have a future in the finance department at Stormont. The anger seems more about the prisoner than the prison upgrade. More about Price than the price.

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