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Concerns raised over sexual and serious assault of prison officers in Portlaoise

Midlands Prison the scene of a mass brawl according to reports
The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise

A sexual assault of a female prison officer and a serious assault of another prison officer at Midlands Prison Portlaoise were highlighted as issues of serious concern ahead of the Prison Officers Association (POA) annual delegate conference.

“Assaults on prison officers have amazingly become an accepted norm – no other employer would tolerate this”, say the Prison Officers Association

Speaking on the eve of the Prison Officers Association Annual Delegate Conference in Kilkenny, Stephen Delaney the outgoing President outlined the worrying increase of assaults on prison officers.

“When I joined the job over thirty years ago, and many facets of the job have improved since then, the assault of a prison officer was a rarity and something that reverberated around every prison in the country and was not a statistical anomaly to be ‘interpreted’ and logged

“The current amount and seriousness of assaults on our members is simply not acceptable or sustainable. Many of our officers now believe that the rule of law in prisons has disappeared and that the era of appeasement for the offender is now fully embedded,” he said.

“Since our conference last May our members have experienced a wide range of assaults, while doing their duty of behalf of the state.

“In June three officers attacked while on escort; in July (Cloverhill) two staff were injured, which involved one recruit ingesting blood in a vicious attack; in August an officer in Cork was attacked and hospitalized with a head injury; in September, also in Cork, a Prison Officers’ Car was petrol bombed in front of their home; in October (Mountjoy) two officers were attacked and one bitten in a serious assault; in November (Midlands) an officer was attacked and sustained a head injury: in December (Mountjoy) a female officer was grabbed from behind by the hair and smacked off a wall and in the Midlands prison a female officer was sexually assaulted.

“Also during December urine was thrown over staff, an officer was attacked with an iron bar; while in January a Mountjoy prisoner spat into an officer’s face. These include the main items on a catalogue of assaults perpetrated on our members since we met last year,” he said.

He called on the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to announce an independent analysis of assaults on their members while at work.

“This analysis should lead to recommendations on how our members can experience a safe place of work. Surely this is not too much to ask in 2018?” he said.

He added: “In recent years practical solutions that form part and parcel of prison work in other jurisdictions, such as conflict resolution, dogs and batons being part of the uniform – were unilaterally rejected by our employer.


“One of the practical methods of punishment, which forms part of the prison rules, was the withdrawal of remission. This was unilaterally removed by the employer in the latest round of prisoner concessions to satisfy the whim of whoever the latest ‘forward thinking’ group that never had to walk a prison landing but thought long and impressive thoughts about how to ‘hug’ away the problems of this world.

“We must all get real on this issue of assaults on our members; the hugging philosophy is as outdated as it is ridiculous,” he said.

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