TWO brothers serving life sentences for murder have mounted a legal challenge to being housed in the segregation unit at the maximum security prison at Portlaoise.
John and Desmond Dundon's lawyer told the High Court yesterday that they, along with a third man, Nathan Kileen, are on a 22-hour lock-up in "the block" and they represent a considerable challenge for the prison authorities who day by day face a difficult job.
But, said Micheal P O'Higgins SC, that was no justification for not applying the prison rules.
There should not be any attempt to "seek to blacken our clients or to seek to paint them in such a way that one might be forgiven for overlooking the entitlements that all prisoners have, notwithstanding their notoriety of the seriousness of their offences."
Counsel said medics believe the Dundons could be "at risk of enduring change to personality".
"It is no doubt all three, paticularly the two Dundons, have committed profoundly serious offences," he said.
But why does segregation require a denial of education and gym facilities and vocational training, counsel asked. The decision to put the men in Portlaoise Prison is illogicial, he said.
He was opening the challenge brought by the Dundons and by Kileen who are seeking orders that their continued detention in the segregation unit is unlawful and a breach of their constitutional rights.
They claim they have spent as much as 14 months in close confinement and the prison rules do not allow for "open ended enduring" segregation and it is meant to short term and an exceptional measure.
The State denies the claims and say the segregation is not punitive in nature.
John Dundon (29), Hyde Park, Limerick was jailed for life last August after being convicted of the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan at Dorradoyle in 2008 in a case of mistaken identity.
Desmond Dundon (31) is serving a life sentence for the murder of rival Limerick crime boss Kieran Keane in January 2002.
Nathan Kileen (22), also from Limerick, is serving a five-year sentence for violent disorder.
The case continues.