Three prison officers were injured in a major incident in Mountjoy Prison last night after inmates with makeshift weapons took control of a recreation yard and refused to return to their cells.
Two prison officers were taken to the Mater Hospital across the road from the jail after they were attacked by rioting inmates and struck on the head with a pool cue and ball, while a third officer was injured later when he fell, and a prisoner received minor injuries to his head. They were taken to the Mater Hospital for treatment. A total of 74 prisoners were involved in the incident, which erupted shortly after 7pm in the yard attached to the Mountjoy A wing.
Prison sources said the rioters were armed with improvised weapons such as snooker and pool cues and balls, broken goalposts and table legs.
Staff reinforcements were immediately drafted into the Victorian prison to quell the disturbances.
Specially trained members of the jail's control and restraint teams, kitted out in riot gear, were deployed about an hour after the incident began, and control dogs were placed on stand-by to help restore order.
A garda helicopter was also called into action and hovered over the prison with a searchlight targeting the recreation yard where the inmates were confronting the staff.
An order was issued by the prison authorities for back-up staff from nearby St Patrick's Institution and two west Dublin jails, Wheatfield and Cloverhill, to be ready to be sent to Mountjoy if the incident deteriorated.
The disturbance began when a prison officer suffered an unprovoked assault from an inmate. Staff prevented the attacker from entering the yard, but he returned with a pool cue and balls.
One of the prison officers was struck a couple of times on the head with the cue, while a second was hit on the back of his head with a pool ball.
Both men were transferred to the Mater for treatment and were being kept under observation late last night.
Gardai, who did not enter the prison, cordoned off the entrance to the jail and armoured prison vans, ambulances, fire engines, and detectives arrived at the prison.
Senior management took control of the deployment of personnel as attempts to persuade the inmates to return quietly to their cells failed.
The latest incident ended after two hours when about 120 officers dressed in riot gear backed up by control dogs moved into the recreation yard. Prison sources said they were met with brief resistance before the inmates returned to their cells and were locked up for the night.
Last night the director general of the Prison Service, Brian Purcell, paid tribute to the staff for their efficient handling of the incident.
Two weeks ago prisoners staged a lunchtime protest in the jail's large recreation yard, which is fitted with mesh netting to prevent drugs being thrown from outside.
But after the control dogs were deployed, the protesters sat down with their hands over their heads and agreed to return to their cells.
Staff at Mountjoy have been complaining about the tougher regime being introduced in the prison to reduce the supply of drugs to inmates.
This regime was put in place by the new governor, Ned Whelan, during the summer.