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Health fears over 'dirty protest' by murder accused

A DIRTY protest is being carried out in a Dublin jail by a man facing a murder charge.

The disturbance has been going on for almost a week at Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin.

The man teamed up with his cell mate to engage in the protest, smearing excrement in their cell.

Their identities cannot be revealed at this point for legal reasons.

The pair have been sharing a cell at the remand prison for some time, and indicated the protest was aimed at securing separate cell accommodation.

When the chief protestor's cell mate was moved out of the cell, for health and safety reasons, he insisted that he had not been part of the protest. However the man on murder charges has continued his protest.

Prison sources said that continuing the protest was bizarre, considering that prisoners involved in this type of protest would be moved in any case for health considerations.

The reasons for continuing are still unclear, prison sources said today, but they suspect that another motive, such as securing a transfer, may be his aim.

A source said: "Officers are trying to negotiate with the man to establish exactly what his grievance is. He is not engaging and it is a difficult situation.

"The man is in no danger but there are clear health and safety implications -- for the prisoner himself and for staff at the jail."

Like many other institutions, Cloverhill has an overcrowding problem. This is confirmed in figures from the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly revealed in his annual report last year.

He said that while the Irish Prison Service gave the capacity as 431 this meant "there were beds or bunks" for 431 prisoners.