herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Rioting prisoners must face isolation unit, say officers

A segregation unit for disruptive prisoners has to be created if Mountjoy jail is not to come under the control of its inmates.

That is the blunt message from senior officers in the prison in the wake of Thursday night's riot at the jail.

Yesterday wings A and B of the jail were locked down in order to keep those involved under control.

While seven of the ringleaders were shipped out to the Portlaoise and Midlands prison, a hard core remains.

Prison officers believe that of the 74 prisoners in the recreation yard who confronted 130 staff in riot gear, about half did not want to be involved. "The rest were, and still are, up for a fight" said a senior officer.

"They have to be segregated. If we lock them in they are martyrs and if we let them out to strut around, they are heroes. We cannot win unless we have a place of segregation to put them in, out of circulation."

Many of those involved on Thursday night barricaded themselves in their cells even after being taken from the recreation yard.

When taken in from the yard, all prisoners were searched and photographed and particular note was taken of their clothing.

They have been identified on internal CCTV cameras and these are being scrutinised in advance of planned court proceedings.

Many pulled jumpers over their heads as balaclavas during the stand-off with the control and restraint teams in full riot gear, with Alsatians.

More than 30 prisoners could face charges of possession of weapons, affray and criminal damage.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, Eugene Dennehy, said the prisoners had made weapons from what were supposed to be "unbreakable" goalposts, which cost €4,000.

hnews@herald.ie

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