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Coordinates: 54°30′50″N 6°11′10″W / 54.514°N 6.186°W / 54.514; -6.186

HMP Maghaberry was built on the site of RAF Maghaberry, a World War II airfield near Lisburn, Northern Ireland, which was used as a flying station by the Royal Air Force and also as a transit airfield for the United States Army Air Forces. At the end of the war, the airfield was run down and various government agencies used parts of the old airfield until the Northern Ireland Office began work on the prison in 1976.

HMP Maghaberry
LocationLisburn, Northern Ireland
Security classHigh Security
Managed byNorthern Ireland Prison Service
GovernorDavid Kennedy

Mourne House, which held all female prisoners, young offenders, and remands, was the first part of the new prison to be opened in March 1986. This followed the closure of the existing women's prison at HMP Armagh. The male prison became fully operational on 2 November 1987. Following the closure of HMP Belfast on 31 March 1996, Maghaberry became the adult committal prison in Northern Ireland. Two new accommodation blocks were opened in 1999.

In 2003, the Steele report recommended options to make Maghaberry safe – including "a degree of separation" for Irish republican and Ulster loyalist inmates.[2]

Maghaberry is currently a modern high-security prison operating with out an emergency exit, which houses adult male long-term sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions. Immigration detainees are accommodated in the prison's Belfast facility. The prison holds 970 prisoners in single and double cell accommodation.

In February 2016, a prison inspection report by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice condemned HMP Maghaberry as being unsafe and unstable,[3] citing suicides as well as clashes between inmates and prison staff.[4] Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales Nick Hardwick described the prison as "one of the worst prisons I've ever seen and the most dangerous prison I've been to"[5]

Notable PrisonersEdit


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  2. ^ "Jail report opts for 'separation'". BBC News. 5 September 2003.
  3. ^ "Maghaberry Prison inspection report". Department of Justice (Northern Ireland). February 2016.
  4. ^ Henry McDonald (2 February 2016). "Maghaberry prison in Northern Ireland unsafe and in crisis, say inspectors". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Maghaberry prison 'most dangerous in the UK'". Belfast Telegraph. 5 November 2015.
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  8. ^ "Robert Black: Convicted child killer dies in prison". BBC News. 12 January 2016.

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