Prison officers who escort inmates are to get stab-proof vests
Prison officers are to be issued with protective stab-proof vests after a spate of attacks by inmates.
The Irish Prison Service has taken delivery of around 100 of the special vests which are to be supplied to the Prison Service Escort Corps (PSEC).
It is believed the shocking stabbing of two officers who were bringing dangerous robber Derek Brockwell to Tallaght Hospital in February was the catalyst for the decision to ramp-up security.
Brockwell (53) got his hands on a knife that had been hidden for him in a toilet cubicle at the hospital where he was brought for a medical appointment on February 17.
He then used it to stab the two officers escorting him before making his escape on the back of a motorcycle.
Brockwell was later arrested by police in Belfast.
The Prison Service confirmed the move to increase security protection for staff was part of a package of additional measures being implemented by the Service aimed at enhancing safety.
A recommendation to introduce stab-proof vests was made by a security group within the Prison Service in the weeks after the Brockwell escape.
Since then there have been other attacks on prison officers within jails, with two officers being slashed last week in Mountjoy.
Prison officer safety is expected to be high on the agenda at the annual Prison Officers Association (POA) to be held in Co Clare tomorrow.
In the wake of the latest stabbing incidents, the POA renewed its demands for more equipment including stab vests, sprays and batons for self defence.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said she met with both the POA and head of the Prison Service Michael Donnellan.
"I have been assured by the director general of the Irish Prison Service that every action is taken by the service to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of all prison staff," she said.