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Gardai fear attacks in packed city court cells

GARDAI have expressed concern about cases being held in the Chancery Street courts complex in Dublin city centre after it was decided that its 200-year-old holding cells were not fit for purpose.

Gardai fear that a member of the public or a garda may be attacked by prisoners who are not now being held in the holding cells.

The courts are next to Bridewell Garda Station and are normally used for road traffic cases and the like.

But on Saturdays and outside normal court hours, the complex deals with all Dublin District Court hearings.

WORRIES

A source explained: "This is becoming a matter of grave concern for gardai, because people who should be in holding cells are now sometimes milling around the court.

"There are big worries that someone is going to get badly hurt if this situation is allowed to continue.

"In some cases, a holding cell is the only place suitable for some of these criminals before their cases are called.

"Because the holding cells are not in operation, prisoners are being kept in a stairwell area near the cells, where sometimes there are more of them than gardai."

Gardai stopped using the holding cells after a male prisoner unsuccessfully attempted to hang himself there.

There have also been complaints about heating and the fact that gardai were sometimes not able properly to monitor prisoners.

"That incident was the final straw for gardai in relation to those cells. They are about 200 years old and completely unsuitable to detain anyone in in this day and age," said a source

The Irish Prison Service is in charge of prisoners in the CCJ complex at Parkgate Street. It is understood that it has been unable to cover weekend court hearings.

kfoy@herald.ie


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