The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has expressed serious concern about the matter of prisoner issues in Northern Ireland, particularly in Maghaberry Prison.

Committee Chair, Kathleen Funchion TD said: “Last November the Committee heard from the Independent Assessment Team on conditions in Maghaberry Prison. A number of concerns were raised at that meeting concerning conditions for both prisoners and staff at Maghaberry. More recently, at their request, the Committee met the family of one of the prisoners held in Maghaberry, Mr Tony Taylor. The Committee wishes to express its concern at the nature of the arrest and imprisonment of Mr Taylor and his continued detention without trial. The Committee will be writing to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to request a meeting as soon as possible to discuss prisoner issues."

On foot of the Committee’s meeting with Conradh na Gaeilge yesterday, Deputy Funchion also reiterated the Committee’s support for Conradh na Gaeilge’s efforts in securing the full implementation of an Irish Language Act in the North.

Deputy Funchion also acknowledged the important developments at the European Council last Saturday: “As the Committee with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, the importance of including explicit references to the need to uphold all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement in the EU's negotiating guidelines cannot be overstated. While an important achievement, this is just the beginning of long and complex negotiations and there is no room for complacency. The Committee underlines the necessity of the Good Friday Agreement being kept to the fore at all times in the forthcoming negotiations. The additional declaration secured by the Government which allows for the entire territory of any future united Ireland being legally part of the EU is also strongly supported by this Committee. “

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