A High Court judge ruled today in favour of a republican prisoner on protest in HMP Maghaberry. Mr Justice Shiel granted leave to Stiofan O Dalaigh to apply for judicial review against various decisions of the Governor of HMP Maghaberry refusing him access to his legal representatives, Madden & Finucane.

On four occasions since the protest began, prison officials have given different reasons for preventing access to Mr O Dalaigh’s solicitor. On the first occasion Mr O Dalaigh had refused to take a shower after prison officers told him that his safety from Loyalists could not be guaranteed in the ablutions area. On further occasions Mr O Dalaigh refused to comply to a prison service procedure adopted which stated that he must clean his cell and take a shower before being allowed a legal visit and on two of the occasions, the prison service simply failed to advise Mr O Dalaigh that his solicitor was in the prison.

The legal challenge argues that the Prison have no legal power to interfere with legal visits in this manner. The Prison Service have sought to argue that the present circumstances ‘supersede and negate’ the Prison Rules, which are designed to protect the rights of prisoners.