Friday 22 September 2017

Warders want new prisons watchdog

Mountjoy Prison in Dublin
Mountjoy Prison in Dublin

Tom Brady Security Editor

PRISON officers have called on the Government to appoint an independent ombudsman to investigate complaints made by offenders.

They want the present system to be scrapped because they believe it has proven to be "most unsatisfactory".

At the moment, the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, has oversight of the complaints procedure.

Now the Prison Officers Association believes the Government should implement a recommendation issued last week by senior counsel Grainne McMorrow to establish the position of prison ombudsman.

Ms McMorrow made the proposal in her damning findings into the death of prisoner Gary Douch, who was killed in his cell at Mountjoy jail by another inmate.

Association president Stephen Delaney told their annual conference in Sligo last night that it was well established that vexatious complaints could be part of the prison system and this was a very serious issue for his members.

COMPLAINTS

He noted that the overwhelming majority of complaints made since the current procedures were introduced in January last year had not been upheld.

Mr Delaney said his association was seriously concerned that those procedures were heavily weighted in favour of the complainant.

Meanwhile, prison officers have joined the queue of public sector workers demanding the restoration of the pay scales that existed before the recession.

Mr Delaney said: "It is only right that the Government now honours previous commitments to restore the pay of hard-pressed workers."

Mr Delaney told his association's annual conference in Sligo last night that it would pursue all avenues open to it to secure the pay entitlements.

He said it had been confirmed that over €1bn savings would be achieved on the payroll over the lifetime of the present pay agreements.

The ESRI was forecasting growth to be in excess of 3pc over the next two years.

Irish Independent

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