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Jail's €7m revamp to end gang feuding

MOUNTJOY chiefs are building new shower areas in the prison to keep feuding factions apart.

It forms part of the €7m development of the C-Base area of the jail and D-division.

The development will see the creation of a number of showering facilites to limit interaction between feuding gangs.

The Prison Officers' Association came out earlier this year to call for prison officers to be given mace spray to deal with "vicious" gang violence.

Gang members and those being protected from gangs were housed in wings of jails where many were locked up for 23 hours a day.

At any one time, one in four Irish prisoners are being housed in segregation units to keep inmates separated from gangs.

Provision has also been given for the gym in D-division to be extended.

"Works are under way in the D wing of Mountjoy prison with regard to the provision a shower area and an extension of the gym area," a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told the Herald.

"These works are being undertaken as part of the ongoing programme of maintenance of the prison. As the Inspector of Prisons has pointed out, in his 2009 report, that while Mountjoy Prison is to be replaced by the new prison development at Thornton Hall, it is important to maintain Mountjoy Prison in the interim."

The keys office at Mountjoy will also be developed as part of the refurbishment. The main aim of the project is the transformation of former dungeons in Mountjoy jail to create 38 more spaces for criminals.

Work has begun on refurbishing C base in Mountjoy to alleviate the pressure of overcrowding at Ireland's largest prison.

Luxury

The cells will have their own toilet facilities -- a luxury for prisoners housed in the new area, who are used to 'slopping out'.

An Irish Prison Service spokesperson said work should be completed in spring 2011.

"We are currently refurbishing an unused part of the C base area of Mountjoy prison," the spokesperson said.

"We are hoping to create 38 additional spaces in the area which will have in-cell sanitation and toilet facilities. It is hoped the spaces will be available from the end of March."

The extra space will fall well short of solving the overcrowding problem at 'the Joy'.

On August 1, 2006, when 21-year-old Gary Douch was kicked, beaten and strangled in a holding cell he shared with six others, the prison's population was 525.

When Derek Glennon was stabbed to death at the jail in June 2007, the population was 568 -- despite a commitment that it would not exceed 480.

Four years on and Mountjoy has repeatedly held more than 700 inmates since May, despite the Inspector of Prisons saying the population should not exceed 600.

hnews@herald.ie


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