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Prisons face disruption as officers plan 'work to rule'


The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, Co. Laois

The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, Co. Laois

The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Prison officers say they have been forced into taking industrial action and will adopt a "work to rule" policy later this month, which will cause major disruption in jails around the country.

The Irish Prison Officers Association (IPOA) has announced that their 3,200 members, who work in 14 prisons across the State, will take the industrial action over "a series of unilateral decisions made by the Irish Prison Service that have impacted on staff safety".

John Clinton, IPOA general secretary, said that 93pc of their members had balloted in favour of industrial action.

And, the National Executive Council of the IPOA has notified the Irish Prison Service that they intend to start this action on March 26.

Mr Clinton confirmed that while the organisation enjoyed a "positive engagement" with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday morning, they felt they had no other option.

"We didn't want to take this course and commence any course of industrial action in the prisons," Mr Clinton said.

"We would hope that people would get back around the negotiating table to offset this work to rule and try to negotiate through this problem with us.

"We are always willing to engage constructively. Our members felt that wasn't the case and that wasn't happening in the prisons."

Mr Clinton said Ms Fitzgerald gave commitments to ensure the safety of prison officers.

The reassurances come in light of two recent incidents, one in the Midlands Prison where an officer was slashed in the face and another in Tallaght Hospital where two members were stabbed during the escape of serial bank robber Derek Brockwell.

Irish Independent