Friday 23 March 2018

Riot teams storm prison yard after inmates armed with makeshift weapons leave hostage badly hurt

Emergency services at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin yesterday after a major disturbance by prisoners. Photo: Stephen Collins
Emergency services at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin yesterday after a major disturbance by prisoners. Photo: Stephen Collins

Paul Williams

An inmate was taken hostage and seriously assaulted and 11 others were injured during a major disturbance at Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin yesterday.

The Irish Prisons Service (IPS) said prisoners were injured when control-and-restraint teams stormed the exercise yard where prisoners had armed themselves with makeshift weapons.

The specialist teams were ordered in when the group of 15 prisoners set upon another inmate they had earlier taken hostage.

The prisoner, a foreign national, suffered a suspected broken arm when he was beaten and then slashed in the face with a makeshift knife.

The incident at the remand prison in Clondalkin, described as a "very serious disturbance", began when 60 prisoners refused to return to their cells from the B exercise yard at 11.25am.

The ring leaders grabbed the hostage and armed themselves with an array of makeshift weapons, including goal posts and razor wire.

They began smashing up property while two prisoners climbed onto an adjoining roof where they caused extensive damage and remained there yesterday evening. One source said: "It was like 'Braveheart' or 'Lord of the Rings'."

All the remaining inmates in the 430-capacity jail were shut in their cells as the prison was locked down. The adjoining Wheatfield Prison next door was also locked down as staff rushed to back up their colleagues.

Following negotiations with management, 45 of the protesting prisoners agreed to return to their cells voluntarily around 1.30pm.

The IPS said the governor ordered the control-and-restraint teams - believed to be in full riot gear - to subdue the remaining 15 protesters when the inmate was set upon.

A fleet of ambulances took 11 injured prisoners and their victim to Tallaght Hospital, where they were treated before being returned to the prison.

It is understood that over 100 prison officers were involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, several criminal trials were delayed yesterday when 33 officers from the Prison Service Escort Corp told management they could not work because they had forgotten their driving licences.

The IPS described the incident as "a wildcat industrial action" and accused the drivers of a serious breach of discipline.

The Court Service said all cases were delayed by about two hours. Several people arrested by gardaí on Tuesday night, who legally had to appear before a court by midday, were also released.

It is understood the drivers were protesting over the introduction of a new roster for the escort corp. The IPS said it had reached agreement with the Prison Officers Association to resolve the issue last week.

Irish Independent

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