One in three prisoners is 'protected' at Cloverhill
Almost one in three prisoners in Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin is under protection, a report by a watchdog group has revealed.
The restricted regime has placed a massive strain on prison resources and can be a logistical nightmare, said the group.
There can be up to 145 prisoners on protection on any day at Cloverhill, representing what the jail's visiting committee described as a significant percentage.
The committee's annual report for 2010, published yesterday, said all of those prisoners had to be segregated from the main population and then had to be divided up again into smaller segments.
The report noted that the increase in those under protection reflected the gang culture in society.
Cloverhill was not designed to provide this level of segregation. Some of those seeking protection feared for their safety while others were segregated because of their links to rival gangs.
The report also recommended that a drug-detection dog be deployed on a full-time basis and a drug-free unit be set up in the prison.
Cloverhill also accommodates more foreign nationals than any other prison in the State with an average of 130 in custody every day.
The report said prisoners committed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau should be sent to a secure holding centre rather than a jail.
The Cloverhill committee was one of a number to complain about overcrowding, with Mountjoy highlighting a "worrying" increase in committals.
The Mountjoy report criticised eight inmates being housed in cells designed for just four, and the committee backed the call for drug-free zones.
The visiting committee at the Dochas Centre women's prison was critical of an incident in which a number of female inmates had to remove their underwear during a search in front of male officers.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the Government remained committed to addressing the twin problems of overcrowding and poor physical conditions in prisons.