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Friday 20 October 2017

We lacked specialist dogs to defuse riot, say prison officers at Cloverhill

Emergency services at Cloverhill Prison after inmates staged a protest on the roof of the prison
Emergency services at Cloverhill Prison after inmates staged a protest on the roof of the prison
Gary Burch
Eamon Moloney

Alan O'Keeffe and Paul Williams

Specialist dogs were not available to quell the riot at Cloverhill Prison this week -because their use in the prison service was officially discontinued several months ago.

If specially trained 'conflict resolution dogs' had been deployed in the prison on Wednesday, injuries may possibly have been reduced and order restored more quickly, a prison officers source has claimed.

Eleven prisoners were taken to hospital and tens of thousands of euro worth of damage was caused when a riot broke out at the Dublin prison.

Most of the injuries were sustained during a pitched battle with prison officers, who had to storm a yard to restore order. A large number of officers in riot gear were deployed and their efforts would have been helped if control dogs had been available, said the source.

But a spokesperson for the Prison Service said a decision had been taken some time ago to discontinue the use of control dogs because they were "completely underutilised".

An Afghan migrant was taken hostage and seriously assaulted by prisoners during the mass disturbance. Walli Ullah Safi was back in his cell last night after hospital treatment.

Slashed

He was found wandering on the side of the M7 two weeks ago after arriving in the country as a stowaway on a lorry. But he was beaten and slashed with a makeshift knife by the ringleaders of the riot on Wednesday morning.

The Irish Prison Service said that those who organised the disturbances in the remand jail - the worst seen in an Irish prison for several years - would face disciplinary hearings.

Meanwhile, a garda investigation is under way and a number of inmates are likely to face multiple charges for criminal damage and assaults on Mr Safi and prison officers.

A Prison Officers' Association spokesperson said that the union would welcome an independent inquiry into the incident, which has also been called for by the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT).

Irish Independent

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