I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 44 and 50 together.
Maghaberry Prison was identified by the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, Brendan McGuigan, in a November 2015 report as needing work to make the prison safer and to improve conditions for both prisoners and staff. Since publication of that report, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland has continued with a programme of announced and low-impact visits to the prison which find the situation has stabilised and that some progress has been achieved. More work, of course, remains to be done.
Prison conditions in Northern Ireland, including for those in the separated regime in Maghaberry, were part of my regular dialogue with the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, and with the former Minister for Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive, David Ford. I have made my strong concerns known to them. I will continue to raise these issues when I meet with the Minister for Justice, Claire Sugden, and with Secretary of State, James Brokenshire.
In addition, my officials engage on a regular and ongoing basis with a range of interlocutors across the devolved and non-devolved authorities, members of the Stocktake group, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, ICRC, and others to discuss, explore and encourage progress.
The difficulties in establishing the prison forum, which is disappointing, have featured in these discussions. I continue to encourage all those with good offices to move on the forum. At this stage, however, it must be acknowledged that momentum has been lost. That the forum is not up and running has contributed to tension in the prison, which in the circumstances is unhelpful.
Also heightening tension is the sense of threat under which prison officers and their families live. The murders of prison officers Adrian Ismay last March and David Black in 2012 were appalling crimes and clearly damaged confidence between prisoners in Roe House and prison officers.
Notwithstanding the challenges to goodwill posed by Mr. Ismay's murder, I was heartened that the Northern Ireland Executive this summer accepted the recommendation of the Fresh Start paramilitary panel that a review be established on the separated regime. I look forward to the appointment of a review panel and to seeing its work completed. This review was proposed following an extensive consultation process undertaken by Monica McWilliams, John McBurney and Lord Alderdice. It opens a new opportunity to address genuine concerns regarding separation. I am conscious also that moving forward in the prison requires the co-operation of both the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the prisoners themselves. I encourage all to work together in the right spirit to move matters forward.