Belfast Telegraph

Father of man (22) found dead at Maghaberry in new push to get answers from authorities

Paul McConville protests outside the Department
of Justice building at Stormont holding a picture of his son Daniel, who died aged 22
Paul McConville protests outside the Department of Justice building at Stormont holding a picture of his son Daniel, who died aged 22
Daniel McConville

By Christopher Leebody

The father of a man who took his own life while held in Maghaberry Prison has made a fresh plea for answers from the authorities into his son's death.

Paul McConville has staged weekly protests outside the prison since his son Daniel (22) died on August 30 last year.

Yesterday he took his campaign to the Department of Justice building within the Stormont Estate ahead of the first anniversary of Daniel's death on Friday.

A father-of-two, Lurgan man Daniel McConville died the day before he had been due in court.

He had been on remand for two months in Maghaberry charged with possession of cannabis resin.

Mr McConville said he hoped his latest protest would prompt further answers from those in the Prison Service.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, surrounded by flowers and photographs of his son, he said: "It is a year on Friday, the anniversary from when he died and we've got nothing from them.

"Daniel had ADHD and learning disabilities and they put him in there. I don't understand this society, that they can put a young man at 22 years of age - with a mental age of a 16-year-old - in a man's prison, with hardened men inside.

"There was nothing hard about him, he couldn't even look after himself".

He said that he doesn't accept Daniel took his own life, adding that as a family they are desperately seeking clarification on the level of care provided to Daniel and other young men in the prison.

"I don't think they are doing enough in that prison to support mental health - if they were doing enough there wouldn't be the level of suicides there is," he claimed.

"Prison officers, medical staff, governors, they are your carers, no matter what you have done wrong. It doesn't matter what crime you have committed."

He continued: "I don't want them to turn around and say he committed suicide and that he's just another statistic. He's not. I want the Department of Justice to hurry up and get this into the Coroner's Court".

Mr McConville became visibly emotional when describing the impact that Daniel's loss has had on his wife Michelle (44), as well as the wider family - including Daniel's two young children Ethan (4) and Ella-Rose (21 months).

"It has destroyed his mother. You can accept it if your son died of an illness. You can accept that and grieve, you can move on and pick yourself up. But what happened to Daniel in that prison - I don't know," he said.

"Ethan keeps asking about him, he wants to go see his daddy. We havn't got round to telling him yet. It's not easy.

"Ella, she is only a year-and-a-half so she didn't even know him, but we will make sure she knows him through our memories". Hoping to secure a meeting with newly appointed Prisoner Ombudsman Rev Dr Lesley Carroll, Mr McConville claims that contact from the Prison Service has been limited.

Mr McConville also insisted that his peaceful protests will continue.

"Social services let him down, the courts and police all let him down. Daniel was a happy-go-lucky young lad," he added.

"He enjoyed himself, enjoyed life and loved his children. He didn't deserve what he got." In a statement a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Prison Service said: "The death of Daniel McConville was a tragedy, particularly for his family.

"The director general and the governor of Maghaberry have met with Mr McConville on a number of occasions to listen to his concerns.

"The Prison Service is fully cooperating with the independent Prisoner Ombudsman investigation into circumstances of Daniel's death."

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