18 April 2006

Anger at prison's Easter lilies ban


(Claire Simpson, Irish News)

A former IRA prisoner has complained that visitors were prevented from seeing republican inmates in Maghaberry jail yesterday (Sunday) because they were wearing Easter lilies.

Paddy Murray (43), who was part of the group, said they had passed two security checks before they were stopped by a guard.

"There were a load of visitors who went to see republican prisoners," he said.

"They were wearing Easter lilies. They got through the first two security checks okay and then one of [the officers] stopped them and said they couldn't go through because the lilies were sectarian."

Mr Murray, of the Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Group, said he did not understand why the group was refused entry.

"They went to visit republican prisoners who were on a segregated wing and have their own room.

"None of them would be offended by an Easter lily," he said.

A spokesman from the Prison Service said visitors are subject to the same rules as prisoners.

"While shamrocks and poppies may be purchased from the prison shop and can be worn throughout the prison in the weeks leading to Remembrance Sunday and St Patrick's Day respectively, Easter lilies may only be worn by prisoners in their cell," he said.

April 18, 2006

This article appeared first in the April 17, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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