OBE for ex-prisoner ombudsman

Published Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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A former watchdog in Northern Ireland has been awarded an OBE for services to prisoners' welfare.

Pauline McCabe stepped down in May from her role as ombudsman investigating jail deaths and complaints from inmates.

Ms McCabe said that she was "delighted and honoured" to receive the award.

A former member of the Policing Board, more recently she became known for her damning findings on problems within the prison service during her term as Ombudsman.

"I am grateful also for the wonderful opportunity those experiences have now given me to work in other countries supporting the efforts of those trying to implement criminal justice system reform," she said.

"It is certainly my experience that Meghan O'Sullivan is right when she says that Northern Ireland has much to share with those striving for peace in other places."

In May, it emerged that a dozen prisoners had taken their own lives over the previous four years.

Ms McCabe has noted significant progress on improving the regime, but added that no prisoner should be subjected to 23-hour lock-down.

Cases she investigated included the suicide of Frances McKeown at Hydebank Wood woman's jail in Belfast in 2011. She suffered severe mental health problems for a number of years and had told prison staff and health workers she intended to kill herself.

The Ombudsman's report said Ms McKeown did not see a psychiatrist until more than six months after she went into the prison.

Also on the prestigious list was a Derry hotelier.

Patsy O'Kane, owner/manager of the Beech Hill Country House Hotel, has been awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievements and service to tourism and hospitality.

Her family bought the hotel in 1989 and since then have hosted several of the world's most powerful people including Bill Clinton and his wife, the former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; and actor Will Ferrell.

The Beech Hill is not just a 30-bedroom hotel though, it is also home to a commemorative museum to the US Marines stationed at the hotel during World War II.

"This prestigious accolade is testament to my family's hard work and dedication over the past 24 years to transform the Beech Hill into a luxurious four star hotel," she said.

"The journey has been long and at times a struggle, but with the commitment of our staff we have managed to deliver one of Northern Ireland's most attractive and best known places to stay."

Others recognised in the honours include Laurent Beaudoin, chairman of the Bombardier aircraft manufacturer, which has a base in east Belfast, for services to British industry - particularly in Northern Ireland.

Mr Beaudoin was given the Order of St Michael and St George.

Bombardier produces parts for aircraft and has been providing a full range of maintenance support for more than 20 years in Belfast. It is one of the largest employers in the east of the city.

Others to be recognised include Trevor Haslett, chief executive of Northern Ireland Water, who was given a CBE for services to the water industry, and Professor Patrick Morrison, an expert in human genetics who was awarded the CBE for services to healthcare.
© UTV News
Comments Comments
Disgusted Warrenpoint in South Down wrote (106 days ago):
This is a joke an award for doing your job This type of gesture is just degrading the whole meaning of these awards
Sean rea in Belfast wrote (107 days ago):
Gerry adams should be asked if he wants one He brought peace and the end of the troubles for ireland while being told ge was a terriost himself which he is not
Davy in Belfast wrote (107 days ago):
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