Monday 16 July 2018

Assaults are putting prison officers in hospital and on the breadline - conference hears

Stephen Delaney, Prison Officers’ Association president
Stephen Delaney, Prison Officers’ Association president

Assaults by prisoners are putting prison officers in hospital and on the breadline, the annual Prison Officers' Association conference has heard.

"Prison life has become one of appeasement of the offender while Prison Officers continue to be the subject of vicious assaults," POA President Stephen Delaney told delegates in Athlone today.

"Official figures show that there were 91 assaults of prisoner on prison officer last year which is approximately two per week," he said.

"In some quarters this reduced figure compared to previous years has been heralded as a triumph. It’s not a major triumph for the 91 officers who were assaulted last year? – believe me.

"Somewhere in the white noise that has become public opinion, and this opinion is at its most strident within the Irish Prison Service it seems that it is ok to only punch a prison officer.

"Nothing short of outrageous violence is deemed worthy of availing of the new Serious Physical Assault Scheme," he added.

"Officers are presently out on long term sick leave arising from assaults that apparently do not fit the criteria. A more appropriate name for this scheme would be the - ‘Bleeding in Buckets with Permanent Disfigurative Damage Scheme’," Mr Delaney declared.

"In the past year several prison officers who were seriously injured and unable to return to work; on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer – had their pay cut and consequently were unable to pay their household or medical bills," he explained.

"Neither the Accommodations Policy nor the Serious Physical Assault Scheme were equipped to deal with the situation these officers found themselves in - through no fault whatever of the individuals involved. And my colleagues in Mountjoy will know who we are talking about," he added.

"No state employee should end up on the breadline because they have been viciously assaulted at work and are unable to return in the short term. This is a disgraceful situation," said Mr Delaney.

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