Prisoner wins right to access library books

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A republican prisoner has won a High Court battle to secure access to library books. Sean McVeigh is currently being held within the segregated regime at Maghaberry Prison.

He brought a legal challenge against the Six County Department of Justice for denying permission to attend the library within the jail due to his status as a separated prisoner.

It was also claimed that the authorities had failed to establish a system for prisoner in his position to request and borrow books.

Lawyers for Mr McVeigh argued that the situation was irrational and breached his human rights by preventing him from furthering his education during imprisonment.

Judicial review proceedings were ended, however, following confirmation that the Stormont administration is to implement a means of accessing library books for prisoners in the separated Roe House wing. An order was made dismissing the case on that basis.

McVeigh’s solicitor described the outcome as a major advancement for prisoners’ rights.

Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law said: “This victory represents another much needed vindication of our client’s rights and the rights of prisoners in separated conditions.

“Access to information is a fundamental right, and there should be no discrimination in this regard.”

Mr Booth added: “A decision to restrict such access impacts not just these prisoners but all of society. We welcome the prison’s decision to now allow our client access to the prison Library and resources.”

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