MPs angry at Maghaberry concessions

The British government bowed to pressure from paramilitaries by sanctioning a scheme of separating loyalist and republican prisoners at Maghaberry jail, according to a new report.

Fears of hunger strikers putting even greater strain on the fragile peace process led the authorities to go against security advice, according to British members of parliament on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Their report also attacked blocks on attempts to question top British government officials on their role in the decision.

MPs have demanded no further concessions to paramilitaries.

Dissident republicans smeared excrement on their cell walls -- a dirty protest against the failure to accord political status to the prisoners.

Loyalists on the outside attacked warders' homes during the stand-off.

The all-party report said: ``We accept that the prevailing political conditions in Northern Ireland in the summer of 2003 placed the government in an extremely difficult position.

``Nonetheless we have to record our belief that the decision taken, as we see it, contrary to the balance of the facts and arguments presented to us, was a dangerous one.''

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