NI: David Ford denies he was ‘beholden to DUP’ as Justice Minister
Northern Ireland’s former Justice Minister David Ford has denied that political interference from the DUP prevented him easing the use of strip-searches in NI prisons.
Trade unionist Peter Bunting told a parliamentary committee in Dublin that Mr Ford “was probably beholden to the likes of the DUP for his position as minister for justice and I think that probably resulted in him lacking the resolve to tackle this matter head-on”.
However, Mr Ford told the Press Association: “I utterly refute any suggestion I was beholden to the DUP.
“I certainly had DUP and Sinn Féin support to be elected minister but I made it absolutely clear I was acting on an Alliance agenda, which they accepted before they voted for me.”
According to Mr Ford, the prisoner deal reached six years ago - which included promises to ease the use of controversial strip-searches - also included an agreement for threats to prison officers to stop.
However, Mr Ford said threats continued on social media thereafter and two prison officers have been killed since 2010.