Daniel McConville's Death In Maghaberry

Anthony McIntyre finds merit in a call for an absolutely thorough and open investigation into last year's death of a prisoner in Maghaberry.

Despite having his hands full outmanoeuvring the censors who have sought to eradicate his presence on the internet, Pat Buckley recently blogged a piece that should raise concerns within a society which, while highly tuned to institutional abuse, seems tone death when such abuse is alleged to have taken place within the North's prisons.

“I hadn’t heard of this death, until now,” said one commenter on the Buckley piece, written in March. As the death took place last August this would indicate something subterranean about these things. The comment was in reference to 22 year old Lurgan man, Daniel McConville, who died while a prisoner in Maghaberry. At the time of his death he had been on remand on charges of possession of a small quantity of cannabis resin. According to Buckley, Daniel McConville had a mental age of 16.

Prison management, which has not yet established a reputation for being a reliable source in such matters, has claimed the young prisoner took his own life. Perhaps. It is not uncommon for vulnerable people to end their own lives in prison when the pressure of an unwelcoming environment becomes too much. A worrying enough development given the question posed by Pat Buckley:
Why was an immature and unwell young man placed in a high security prison for having a small amount for personal use?
Despite the claim of death as a result of suicide, Daniel McConville's father feels he has grounds for a belief  that his son was beaten to death by prison staff. Perhaps. It is not uncommon for prison staff to resort to violence as a means of maintaining control. It seems a universal trait of the profession. Today, there are still claims that republican prisoners are being attacked by prison staff. Sean McVeigh recently appeared in court with signs of bruising and swelling, alleged by Saoradh to have been sustained during the applications of prison staff violence.

When the former deputy governor of Long Kesh, Tom Murtagh, accused erstwhile blanket man, Robert McClenaghan, of "dishonest portrayal" of brutality in the H Blocks during the blanket protest, it rang as authentic as some Catholic cardinal denying the prevalence of child rape. Any of the hundreds of people on the same protest as McClenaghan will bear witness to the accuracy of his claims.

In an age where institutional abuse is under serious scrutiny, not a solitary state investigation into the brutality of the Northern Irish Prison Service is taking place. For all the talk of legacy inquiries, the prisons seem a no go area. The Catholic Church in Ireland has cause to feel discriminated against on the grounds that a serious rival in the field of abuse has long been a recipient of a free pass.

The only way to attain clarity and closure for the family of Daniel McConville is for the "thorough and open investigation" called for by Pat Buckley. Prison staff might not have been culpable in any way for the death of Daniel McConville, but given the paucity of credibility associated with prison management discourse around these matters, society should only believe official prison statements as readily as it would the outpourings from cardinals.


  1. Athnony

    This poor vulnerable young man should never even have been held on remand for this non-offence. It is generally counter-productive to imprison offenders found guilty of non-violent offences such as possession and shop lifting to feed an addiction. Prison with its bullying and Darwinian culture is no environment for people with learning difficulties and autistic spectrum and related conditions.

    So this is a shocking story on all counts. Well done, Anthony, for bringing this institutional homicide to wider attention and I hope this will be the spur for a campaign for a public inquiry and criminal investigation.

    Btw, I find it outrageous that, in relation to Cardinal Pell's monstrous crimes, that the maximun tariff is six years for the psychological murder of those boys in his prey. It is my hope that, like Liam Adams, he shuffles off this mortal coil behind bars.

    Rant over. Well done Liverpool last night in Munich. Let's hope that this is the spur that will propel the Kloppites for that long overdue Premiership title.

  2. It was the same prison Sean Lynch (not republican either) gouged his own eyes out and mutilated his genitals for over an hour without prison intervention.

    It’s understandable people have little sympathy over jails when prisoners are presented in the media as deserving scum who need to beasted a lesson in submission, but what about when they are there for not paying the BBC tax? Or for a small amount of drugs legal elsewhere in civilised countries? Are these deserving scum, who were always deviants anyway? Or is something going on in the prisons that is festering and causing something that otherwise wouldn’t of happened?

  3. Anthony

    This is something that really does create visceral anger in me.

  4. 22 years old. A life gone before its even begun. And for a wee bit of weed?

  5. Very, very sad and disturbing.

    It's also a shame that it has to be Batman (aka Pat Buckley) who raises awareness of such a horrendous case.

  6. This is the advertising the Belfast Telegraph have on the article

    [img] https://ibb.co/GF9KnMb [/img]

  7. Shocking , and it's only become public knowledge today , that poor lad , at their mercy , one can only imagine what he went through in his final hours.

  8. Alas these petty offences are used by the state to pressure vulnerable people into situations they wouldn't want to be in hence why the state jails folk for such misdemeanours.
    A friend of mine had been convicted of road traffic violations(speeding and no insurance) and a short jail sentence was hanging over him. Fortunately or unfortunately, depends on what way you look at it, he was approached by two branch/mi5 goons and a proposal was put to him I.e 'do a bit of work for us(watch 2 people of interest)or go to jail immediately'. Thinking on his feet he told them he would and was let on his way. He told the two people of interest what had happened and then skipped town thinking that the spooks would forget about him. Unfortunately the spooks held a grudge at this fella's temerity to bullshit them and thus they endeavoured to stymie anything work he endeavoured to do be it in Australia,the State's and London.
    Eventually he had a breakdown and was hospitalised. Alas the angelic psychiatrists chose to roll in behind the spooks once they learned of the background to his breakdown........yes there are good folk in the NHS but there are also too many cowardly doctors that will never point out the ways and wrongs of other state agencies. They pay lip service to plight of some vulnerable people but readily ignore it if it threatens a reputation of a fellow professional. Cowards and chancers that love the sound of their own voices. Just saying.

  9. Image didn’t come out, it was for laser eye surgery btw


  10. Good piece, reminded me of the articles by Alex Cavendish the TPQ carried a while back.

    The Detail covered some of the same points in a piece called Call for independent inquiry after 206 prisoner deaths in 12 years

    "THE number of prisoners who have died across the island of Ireland since the beginning of 2007 has risen to 206, The Detail can reveal.

    Daniel McConville, aged 22, was the latest person to die while in custody at Maghaberry Prison on August 30.

    His death brings the total number of prisoners to die in Northern Ireland’s prisons since January 2007 to 50, while 156 inmates have died in the Republic of Ireland."

  11. Thanks all for the comments