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Prison visits suspended due to coronavirus crisis

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Visits have been suspended to all prisons in NI in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  (stock image)

Visits have been suspended to all prisons in NI in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (stock image)

Visits have been suspended to all prisons in NI in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (stock image)

Visits have been suspended to all prisons in Northern Ireland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Justice Minister Naomi Long, in consultation with Director General of the NI Prison Service Ronnie Armour, made the announcement that visits would be suspended from Monday.

Mr Armour said: "The safety of everyone in our prisons is paramount. As decisions have been made to restrict contact in wider society with the closure of schools, leisure facilities and other public buildings, I have reluctantly taken the decision to suspend all visits to our prisons.

"Under normal circumstances visits would be one of the last areas to be suspended as family contact is at the centre of prison life. However we are living in extraordinary times and what at one time would have been unthinkable, is this week's reality.

"I visited each of our prisons and spoke to many people in our care. In fact some of them have already told their loved ones not to visit them."

Belfast Telegraph