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Leave freed Murphy alone pleads former prison boss

A FORMER Mountjoy Prison governor has declared rapist Larry Murphy should be left alone to enable him to re-integrate into society.

John Lonergan, who retired from his post recently, said that some of the reaction to Murphy's release had given him cause for concern.

An ex-prisoner such as Murphy had a right to be allowed to "mend his ways," he said.

Mr Lonergan said: "Anyone with common sense will say that communities have a right to be protected and I can understand their fear and their anxiety.

"On the other hand, a person who has been sentenced, who has served their sentence, also has the right to mend his or her ways and to re-integrate back into society.

"Personally, I think the way it's being dealt with by the gardai -- managing it on a low-profile basis -- that is the only way.

"Any other thing, like society taking it into their own hands and standing outside houses picketing, that's over the top," he said.

The former governor said that the public needs "the belief that people can change".



Outspoken

Mr Lonergan had been outspoken on various issues concerning prisoner welfare during his 42 years' service in the prisons system.

When he announced his retirement last May, he launched another attack on what he called the "appalling conditions" in Mountjoy prison.

Mr Lonergan, who officially retired in June, said the options and flexibility available to a governor were very limited and "getting worse by the day".

During his career he made the headlines regularly with his hard-hitting comments on the prison system, but he admitted last night that he believed nobody "ever listened to me".

Mr Lonergan was a firm opponent to the building of a new prison campus at Thornton Hall in north Co Dublin to replace Mountjoy and wanted, instead, a massive refurbishment of the existing complex located at North Circular Road in Dublin.

He said it was very important to see people making their views known outside Dail Eireann and he hoped to use his free time to highlight injustices and support the underdog.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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