Mountjoy officers to decide on industrial action vote
Published 31/08/2010 | 05:00
Prison officers are to meet in Mountjoy Prison today to decide if they should press ahead with a planned ballot for industrial action.
The row is over staffing levels at the separation unit in the prison following the transfer there of violent inmate Leroy Dumbrell.
Some of the issues have been settled following talks between governor Ned Whelan and the local branch of the Prison Officers' Association.
As reported in the Irish Independent on Saturday, one extra prison officer has been redeployed to the separation unit.
Today's meeting will determine whether sufficient progress has been made in those talks to warrant calling off the proposed ballot, which was announced last week after Mountjoy officers refused to return to their posts for an afternoon in protest at the Dumbrell transfer.
Staffing levels at the separation unit, which houses prisoners who are under protection from other inmates, have previously been the subject of talks between the two sides at the Labour Relation Commission.
The row centres on the status of Dumbrell, who is serving an eight-year sentence for an unprovoked assault of an innocent man, which resulted in the victim losing the sight in one eye.
Dumbrell had been moved out of Mountjoy to Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon last Christmas as a result of his role in a near riot, which left a dozen people injured.
The officers argue that Dumbrell is a disruptive prisoner and his transfer into the separation unit is a breach of the staffing agreement.
However, prison authorities say Dumbrell became a protection prisoner at Castlerea and was held in solitary confinement there for five months due to concerns for his safety.
But in response to the concerns expressed by the officers, Mr Whelan agreed that the staff numbers deployed there should be marginally increased.
Meanwhile, two other prisoners have been transferred out of Mountjoy as a punishment measure following an unrelated incident in the jail's main reception area on Sunday.
The two prisoners wrecked the main holding cell, destroying a CCTV camera, two smoke detectors, two large light fittings and causing damage to a door.
The inmates had been moved into the area while their cells were being searched for possible smuggled drugs and mobile phones in a targeted operation.