In consultation with the Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA, the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service has announced that he has reluctantly taken the decision to suspend all visits to prisons from Monday 23nd March.
Ronnie Armour said, “The safety of everyone in our prisons is paramount. As decisions have been made to restrict contact in wider society with the closure of schools, leisure facilities and other public buildings, I have reluctantly taken the decision to suspend all visits to our prisons.
“Under normal circumstances visits would be one of the last areas to be suspended as family contact is at the centre of prison life. However we are living in extraordinary times and what at one time would have been unthinkable, is this week’s reality.
“I visited each of our prisons earlier this week and spoke to many people in our care. I was struck by the understanding from them that tough decisions would have to be taken and in fact some of them have already told their loved ones not to visit them.
“I am very conscious that while face to face visits have been suspended, contact between families and their loved ones in prison must continue. We will immediately, and on an ongoing basis, look for every opportunity to ensure that families can stay in contact.”