Sunday 21 January 2018

Mountjoy Jail prisoners have 'own information super highway', Judge told

Anthony Lawlor of Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, at court
Anthony Lawlor of Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, at court
Anthony Lawlor of Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, at court
Mountjoy Prison

Ray Managh

Prisoners in Mountjoy Jail have their own information super highway that dates back to earliest Victorian times, a judge heard today.

They stand on a bed or a chair which brings their heads to window level and then “talk out” to fellow prisoners in separate cells to their right or left or above them, Judge Matthew Deery was told.

The prison governor and the Minister for Justice claimed that it was while participating in the such communication inter action that prisoner Anthony Lawlor had fallen from his bed and fractured his right elbow.

Barrister Andrew Murray, counsel for the Minister and Governor, told the Circuit Civil Court it was a regular practice for prisoners to communicate by engaging in the open window cell net.

Lawlor (27) denied he had been talking out to other prisoners at the time and said he had stood on his bed to open the small window to allow air into his cell.

“I fell through the bed not off it.  The mesh spring was defective,” he told Mr Murray during evidence in his €38,000 damages claim against the authorities.

He agreed that prisoners regularly kept in touch with each other by talking “out the window.”  He said he had just packed a bag to go to the prison gym and was letting some fresh air into his cell before he left.

Judge Deery told Lawlor, of Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, that he had failed to prove his claim that the authorities had exposed him to risk by failing to keep his bed in a useable and safe condition.

The judge said prisoners could reach their hands to the windows by standing on tip-toe but had to stand on some piece of cell furniture such as a bed or chair to bring their heads level with the window aperture for communication purposes.

Judge Deery, dismissing Lawlor’s claim, awarded the prison authorities their legal costs against the former prisoner.

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