New elected Justice Minister Claire Sugden visited her East Londonderry constituency in her official role last week.
As part of the visit, Minister Sugden met with staff and prisoners at Magilligan Prison.
The medium security prison houses more than 500 adult male sentenced prisoners.
Speaking after the visit, Sugden said: “There is no doubt the existing infrastructure at Magilligan has outlived its useful life and is expensive and inefficient to staff, maintain and operate.”
After taking up the role as Justice Minister for Northern Ireland, local political representatives have been putting pressure on Minister Sugden to deliver a new build at the Magilligan site to meet basic standards required by disability law and to foster rehabilitation at the site.
MLA Gerry Mullan said: “The previous Minister has already recognised that standards at the prison fall short of those required by disability access legislation and that the current infrastructure has outlived its useful life.
“It’s critical that we see a new build at the site to relieve pressure on staff and prisoners, offering them a genuine opportunity for rehabilitation in a modern prison environment.
During her visit the Minister was briefed on operations by Governor David Eagleson and toured prisoner workshops as well as residential and prisoner development units.
She also met with Prison Officers and other members of staff.
Minister Sugden said: “The visit allowed me to see first-hand the work taking place at Magilligan, and to discuss with Prison Service staff the challenges of providing for a complex mix of prisoners.
“There is no doubt the existing infrastructure at Magilligan has outlived its useful life, and is expensive and inefficient to staff, maintain and operate.
“Yet there is still some exceptionally good work being done.”
Magilligan Prison Governor David Eagleson said: “Magilligan prides itself on being part of the local community.
“We operate a very progressive regime for prisoners and the Minister was able to witness first hand much of the good work which is taking place in the prison.
“All prisoners in Magilligan will return to the community at some stage and it is vital that they are given every opportunity to address their offending behaviour when in prison.
“I have a team of dedicated staff who are working earnestly in preparing prisoners for release and in doing so are making an important contribution to wider society.”