Saturday 3 December 2016

Officers 'photoshopped' out of official union magazine

Claire McCormack

Published 15/05/2016 | 02:30

ANGER: In the original photograph of a Dublin ceremony the two officers, part of a guard of honour, are shown in the top right
ANGER: In the original photograph of a Dublin ceremony the two officers, part of a guard of honour, are shown in the top right

The decision of a top trade union magazine to remove two officers from official photographs at a ceremony in Dublin has left prison staff perplexed.

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The Irish Prison Service has a number of members that belong to a guard of honour for attending funerals of colleagues and special ceremonial events.

In the photograph used by the Prison Officer Association’s magazine, the pair in the top right have been removed
In the photograph used by the Prison Officer Association’s magazine, the pair in the top right have been removed

In September 2015, these members took part in a stately march in the capital. At the end, they lined up for a group photograph - subsequently supplied to both the Irish Prison Service and the Prison Officers Association (POA) to be printed in upcoming autumn editions of their magazines.

However, when the photograph was reproduced in the POA's Prison Officer Magazine - crowned overall winner of the Public Sector Magazine Award in 2015 - two of the officers had been photoshopped out.

In the original picture, as seen above, these two officers are standing directly behind the second officer from the right - yet they are clearly missing from the photo reprinted by the POA.

Sources claim the two men, who work at Dublin's Cloverhill Prison, were removed because they are not members of the POA, having previously resigned from the organisation for "personal reasons".

"This has caused a large amount of complaints from staff in Cloverhill who work with these two officers, and as a consequence a branch meeting was held late last year with two national officers in attendance," said one source.

"When questioned as to why these officers were removed, it was stated by a national officer that they were not members and the POA was within its rights to remove them from the photo. . . it was an editorial decision," he said.

"The question was asked if it was the intention of the union to send a clear message to members that if you leave they will effectively make you disappear or vanish from existence, to which a national officer stated, 'if any member sought to discuss the issue again they would be thrown out of the union'," a source told the Sunday Independent.

Last November, the guard of honour travelled to a Northern Ireland Prison Service training centre to attend a memorial service for deceased members.

Again, group photos were taken and distributed to both the Irish Prison Service and the POA's magazine.

However, when the image appeared in the December edition of the POA's publication, the same officers were cropped out once again.

"This is a very sinister tactic to send a message to members who may have considered leaving the union, and is a clear warning," said the source.

"This behaviour is unacceptable from a body which is supposed to protect staff. Many of the staff that I've spoken to consider the actions of the national officers to be nothing more than outright bullying and are outraged by their actions not once, but twice, in successive magazines.

"Both of the officers concerned are seeking legal advice on the matter."

The POA failed to respond to queries on this issue despite repeated attempts to speak with a representative.

Sunday Independent

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