Drones drop 50 drugs packs into jail in a week
Fifty packs of drugs and other contraband were delivered by drone or thrown into Wheatfield Prison in one week in March, according to the general secretary of the Irish Prison Officers' Association (IPOA).
Speaking at its annual conference in Sligo, John Clinton called for nets to be put over the exercise yards because prison officers were facing very challenging situations trying to retrieve the packages while surrounded by a lot of prisoners.
"There was huge fanfare made in the media three weeks ago when a number of drones were caught outside Castlerea Prison, and in the Irish Prison Service recent strategy statement [it said] that they intend to bring in technological answers to this problem," said Mr Clinton.
"We don't know what these are so we are asking the minister what are these technological solutions to this problem, because we heard of technological solutions to mobile phones by using phone blockers going back many years, and it never happened," he added.
Mr Clinton also addressed the issue of prisoners being allowed to smoke.
"The problem is we are prison officers, we have lungs the same as everyone else and we suffer the same health issues as everyone else," he said.
"It is possible at the moment and there are clear examples of smoke-free prisons across Europe.
"It's 15 years now since the smoking ban was introduced and we want the same health and safety protection that every other employee in this State is currently enjoying."
IPOA deputy general secretary Jim Mitchell told the conference there is an assault by a prisoner on a staff member on average once a week in Mountjoy Prison.