Murdered prison officer David Black

TWO men are in custody being quizzed by detectives probing the murder of the prison officer David Black earlier this month.

The men, aged 34 and 42, were arrested in Coalisland, County Tyrone where a known dissident cell is based.

The suspects were taken to the serious crime unit at Antrim police station for questioning.

Mr Black was shot as he drove to work on the M1 outside Portadown on November 1.

A group calling itself  ‘The IRA’ admitted carrying out the killing.

Senior disssident republican Colin Duffy was arrested over the murder but was released after two days.

He is now suing the PSNI for wrongful arrest and detention.

The fresh arrests come as 20 dissident republican prisoners at Maghaberry Prison have ended their dirty protest.

In a statement to the Irish News, prisoners on landing four in Roe House said they had taken the decision after “intense and detailed discussion and analysis”.

Senior dissident Colin Duffy

A separate group of dissident republican prisoners on landing three are continuing their dirty protest.

The protest started in May 2011 in opposition to strip searches.

The prisoners claim that the prison authorities reneged on an agreement brokered in August 2010 to end a policy of routine full body searches, replacing it with electronic scanners.

The prisoners claim the deal was that they would be searched using a BOSS chair – a Body Orifice Security Scanner.

Prison authorities said the agreement was for internal movement within the prison only, not when prisoners left and re-entered their wings for domestic and legal visits or trips to court.

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed the move but said the prison service had honoured and upheld its side of the agreement.

“Clearly this now presents the opportunity for a relaxation of tension, particularly if the other group of prisoners were also to move in the same direction,” he said.

The statement said the prisoners on landing four believed the move would “provide the space required for a resolution of the current impasse”.

“This initiative should be viewed as a genuine and sincere attempt to create the conditions in which a conflict free environment can flourish whereby all are treated with respect and dignity is guaranteed,” the statement added.

Mr Ford said prison authorities were looking at the issue of how prisoners are searched.

“All prisoners inNorthern   Irelandon entering and leaving prison require to be full body searched – that is being dealt with at the moment by two pilots which are running at Magilligan and Hydebank Wood.

“We are also moving on our proposals for a different type of technology which might be applicable to Maghaberry.

“Following on from the report from the prison review team, the prison service has been actively working to avoid full body searching on the basis that it would be something which would ensure security for prisoners and prison staff, but something which is a lot more dignified to both prisoners and the staff who have to operate it.”

The justice minister said there had been no “concessions made or discussions recently with the prisoners”.

“This is an initiative which has come from them,” he said.

Mr Ford said he did not know if those prisoners still on dirty protest would now choose to end their action.

“There have been two different groups within the separated republican prisoners,” he said.

“Clearly there are complex relationships within the group of prisoners at Roe House and I’m hoping the group of assessors who have been assisting us in seeking to find a way through the current difficulties may be in a position to produce an assessment as to how the mood is on both landings of the house in the next week or two.”



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