Published Friday, 21 September 2012
Under the proposed plan, Magilligan Prison would be closed by 2018. (© UTV)
Northern Ireland's second largest prison is set to shut in 2018, after a review recommended a new medium security facility should be built close to Maghaberry.
Magilligan opened close to Limavady in 1972 and has the capacity to house 452 prisoners.
On Friday, politicians and prison officers' representatives joined at the prison to protest against the scheme.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said around 440 jobs in the north-west would go in the move, which he predicted would take £10m from the local economy.
"Four million pounds has already been spent on upgrading Magilligan Prison with plans to spend more money before 2014," he said.
"The Justice Minister should look at a plan b and in so doing would be recognised as having helped the sustainability of the economy of the area."
The recent announcement that the Department of Agriculture headquarters are to be relocated to nearby Ballykelly has been welcomed, but Mr Campbell said to move the prison would "render us back to square one".
"This is a region which has already suffered incredibly from job losses."
Any concerns the Justice Minister had expressed about the distance that relatives must travel to Magilligan for visits was dismissed by Mr Campbell, who said that "will not wash with the wider public".
Others have questioned the value of spending £250m on security facility instead of schools or hospitals.
Limavady Borough Council has placed a petition in the reception of the council offices for residents to sign.
Next month the document, which is expected to garner thousands of signatures, will be presented to the Executive by prison officers.