‘Very Serious Problems’ In Ireland’s Prisons: Lenihan

The Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, speaking on RTÉ’s Six One news has said there are ‘very serious problems’ in prisons. He added that ‘the first step we have to take is to secure our prisons…prison officers are in the front line, we need a second line’.

The new officers will effectively operate as a ‘separate service’ within prisons, and many will not come under the supervision of prison governors, he said. The Minister’s comments came as the Cabinet agreed a wide range of measures to combat violence in prisons.

The new measures include establishing two new special segregation units for suspected gang leaders, the units will be located in Cloverhill Prison. The cabinet also agreed to increase the number of prison officers by up to 178.  A drug detection dog service is also to be established in prisons.

It is also planned to introduce security screening for all persons entering all prisons on all days, including Sunday. The measures come in the wake of the fatal stabbing of an inmate in Mountjoy Prison. But Minister Lenihan said the new measures were not a reaction to the death as they had already been planned.