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Concern that Shocking Allegations in the Irish Prison Service are not Being Actioned Upon

NB

Here is the link to the speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqu6tNkTMgw


At Leaders Questions in the Dáil today Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibin TD raised shocking allegations in the Dáil today concerning alleged actions by Prison Officers that led to increased threat to the safety of another prison officers. An Teachta Tóibín stated;


“Tom worked within the Irish Prison Service as an Assistant Chief Officer, based in the A block, of Portlaoise Prison. This block houses some of the most notorious and dangerous prisoners int he country. Prisoners include the Kinihans,the Dundons and many more criminals who are house hold names. This is a high-pressure environment where violence and threat to life is a real and constant concern for prison officers”.


“In October 2018 a prisoner came into the governor parade of Portlaoise and stated to Governor that three officers were constantly coming into his cell and in his words, he said that he felt that they wanted him to damage to the assistant chief officer. There was a high-level meeting held afterwards between the Governors regarding what the prisoner said. However, itis alleged that no action was taken”.


“Tom who was the target of these words alleges, that he was advised to carry on working and wait for written complaint to be made before a course of action would be taken. Tom worked in this extremely pressurised and threatening environment for 16 months and finally a prisoner made a category A complaint. That complaint was investigated by an external investigator called John Naughton. A number of prison officers and prisoners, including Freddie Thompson a convicted murder, were interviewed. Other prisoners confirmed what Thompson had alleged. They said “Many prisoners can’t handle these situations and will turn to violence”. A Governor also gave evidence.


He told the investigator that some of the initiatives he had introduced were“ subversively resisted by some prison officers. The three senior officers, the targets of the remarks also gave evidence. One stated that on his arrival to the block one of the basic-grade officers told him: “We do not like you; we did not send for you; we do not want you; you won’t be staying. We will run you out of A Block”. Shockingly The Independent Naughton report into the situation found that it was “undeniable that some officers were making comments to deliberately try to undermine the work of senior officers and that there are grounds for the initial complaint. We know this only information only because Mick Clifford of the Irish Examiner has done extensive work in this area and has seen the report. Following that report the three staff members were not sanctioned.


They continued to work in the same prison. No action was taken other than a proposal that the three would attend a workshop. Tánaiste is this good enough and what will you do to resolve this. This is shocking. That a state sponsored report, would find that staff, in the pay of the state would deliberately try to undermine the work of senior prison officer staff and allegedly put them in the way of serious violence or worse. And to top off little or nothing has been done about it since. A protective disclosure is being issued in relation to actions in the Prison. It has been reported to be that three other senior staff at the prison are also not attending work. I have tried a number of times to contact the Director General of the Irish Prison Service but there is a refusal to discuss this. I questioned the Minister for justice; and She Referred to the Workshop proposal, despite the standard discipline for this type of shocking behaviour being the loss of one’s job. Tánaiste this shocking and murky situation highlights a systemic failure within the Irish Prison Service that needs to be rooted out now. Will you ensure that the Naughton Report is published, that specific actions are taken to protect the lives and the health of all those who work for the state in the prison service and will you hold an investigation into what has happened.
 

By Aontú Press | 11 March, 2021



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