Thursday 23 November 2017

Theft and tax evasion claims at Limerick Prison probed

Limerick Prison. Photo: PA
Limerick Prison. Photo: PA

Rory Tevlin

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said an internal investigation is ongoing in relation to allegations of misconduct at Limerick Prison, following a whistleblower's claims of fraud, theft and tax evasion.

Speaking at the University of Limerick, Mr Flanagan said he understood that an internal probe had been launched, but he had not had the opportunity "to review the file in its entirety", following his appointment to the role last week under Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

"I'm anxious to ensure there will be due process if allegations [at Limerick Prison] have been made, and I trust that they will be dealt with under normal due process," Mr Flanagan said.

Fine Gael Senator Kieran O'Donnell said the allegations were "a source of concern".

"I would welcome the fact that this has gone before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), being a former member. It's a matter that has to be taken very seriously," said Mr O'Donnell.

Fianna Fáil deputy Willie O'Dea said the allegations "strike right at the heart of the justice system".

"There has to be an all-systems-go inquiry. The Department of Justice will have to get to the bottom of this, because the last thing we want is to have the prison service undermined," Mr O'Dea said.

A dossier containing allegations of theft, fraud and tax evasion at Limerick Prison was sent to the now former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald, the Public Accounts Committee and others to highlight certain employees alleged to have "defrauded the State".

A number of individuals among Limerick Prison's staff of 194 employees are named in the document.

The Prison Service confirmed it has "received allegations of improper conduct at Limerick Prison", which are under investigation.

An unnamed whistleblower has claimed some staff within Limerick Prison are "committing theft, fraud and tax evasion on a daily basis, yet nothing is done to them".

Irish Independent

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