Mountjoy gets extra officer over dispute
Staffing levels at the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison have been increased marginally following talks between governor Ned Whelan and the local branch of the Prison Officers' Association (POA).
The POA is seeking an increase in manpower in the unit since violent prisoner Leroy Dumbrell was transferred there on Monday. After the talks, the authorities agreed to deploy one extra officer to the unit.
But the Irish Prison Service continued to refuse to meet the POA's national officers on the grounds that it was organising a ballot on industrial action among its members in Mountjoy and "wildcat" action had been taken by the staff in Mountjoy when they failed to turn up for work on Tuesday afternoon.
The Prison Service said it was seeking clarification from the association about the ballot.
But the POA accused the service of "small-mindedness" and called for the meeting to be rescheduled to allow an effective solution to be found. It also wants Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to intervene.
Staffing levels for the unit, which was reopened earlier this year to hold prisoners under protection, were agreed by the two sides following talks in the Labour Relations Commission.
But staff argue that Dumbrell, who was moved out of Mountjoy last December after a riot left 12 people injured, was not a protection prisoner and should not be held in the unit.
Ballot papers are expected to be circulated among staff next week for a vote on industrial action.