herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Mountjoy boss vows to tackle thugs with dogs and riot squads

THE NEW Mountjoy chief has claimed that prisoners don't run his prison.

Governor Ned Whelan told a gathering of prison officers at Ireland's largest jail last week that his get-tough stance would continue.

He addressed the prison officers after 70 donned riot gear and ended a prisoner sit-in linked to racial abuse levelled at a prison officer last week.

Six handlers and up to 10 trained Alsatians were also dispatched to ensure the situation didn't get out of control.

A source told the Herald: "The governor was delighted with the day's work. He told the prison officers that the day of prisoners running Mountjoy was over."

To reiterate his tough stance and his willingness to deploy the control and restrain teams to deal with prisoner unrest, the prison dog handlers did a demonstration in one of the exercise yards on Thursday.

"They brought the Alsatians into the exercise yard and had them confront a handler who was wearing protective padding," the source said.

"It was in full view of the prisoners on the Joy's notorious D wing and they were chanting but you could here a pin drop when the dogs started attacking."

Wednesday's protest came after a 'P19' disciplinary report was issued against a prisoner who had abused a black officer.

The prisoner, who was recently transferred to Mountjoy from a jail in Britain, was backed up by up to 100 of his fellow inmates in the protest.

Officers dressed in full riot gear, backed up by the prison dog units, convinced the men to halt their protest and return to their cells.

Seven of the men, including the instigator of the protest, were transferred out of Mountoy and a further three individuals are waiting for space to open up elsewhere before they are transferred.

Ireland's most dangerous prison inmate continues to be housed in the prison's segregation unit, despite reservations on the part of prison officers.

Leroy Dumbrell, who has 57 convictions, sparked a walk-out by Mountjoy prison officers in the summer when he was transferred back to the E Division at the prison from Castlerea prison.



Riots

The thug, who has been involved in prison riots, drug dealing and attacks on other inmates, had been held on 23-hour lock-up in Castlerea.

In August, his lawyers won a court order to end the five-month solitary confinement and allow him to mix with other convicts.

The Mountjoy governor has also brought in new guidelines to deal with the prison's drug problem.

More intensive screening for visitors, the ending of physical contact between certain prisoners and their visitors and the erection of a €200,000 drug net designed to stop drugs being catapulted over the perimeter wall and into the exercise yard.

The jail yards were already surrounded by vertical meshing and gardai deploy regular patrols along the banks of the nearby Royal Canal to stop the drug slingshots.

New visitor guidelines have also added to the ill feeling between prisoners and prison authorities.

A number of inmates, who come under suspicion by staff handling the jail's drug dog, are refused physical contact if there are indications that they could have been involved in accepting drugs or other contraband from visitors in the past.

Instead, they have to agree to receive visits behind a screen and in controlled circumstances.

hnews@herald.ie

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