Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what form of inquiry was held into the bomb explosion in HM Prison, Crumlin road, Belfast; in which room of the prison the explosion occurred; how many prisoners died as a result of the explosion; when he expects to receive the results of the inquiry; how many people have been prosecuted in connection with this incident; and if he will make a statement on the present safety arrangements for remand prisoners at this prison.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
Two remand prisoners died as a result of injuries received when a bomb exploded in the recreation and dining hall in C wing, HM prison Belfast, on 24 November 1991. To date there have been no prosecutions in connection with the incident. The police investigation is continuing.
Following the explosion two inquiries were initiated. A senior governor in the Northern Ireland prison service was requested to inquire into the effectiveness of search and other procedures at Belfast prison and to consider what changes, if any, should be made. While Lord Colville was asked to review the operational policy at Belfast prison for the management of paramilitary prisoners from opposing factions and to make recommendations.
The internal inquiry, which was completed on 10 December, contained a number of recommendations and these are currently being considered with a view to their urgent implementation. Lord Colville is at present taking evidence and I hope to have his report by February.
The Government are conscious of its duty to take all practical and reasonable steps to ensure the safe custody of all prisoners in the Northern Ireland prisons and safety arrangements are kept constantly under review. In addition to the changes recommended by the internal inquiry, a number of security measures have been introduced at Belfast prison since the explosion to provide greater protection for remand prisoners.