| 14.9°C Dublin

Mountjoy gets just one palm scanner after mass walkout

THE PRISON Service has responded to a major walkout by officers at Mountjoy -- by installing a single electronic palm reader.

A week after the prison was shut down for hours, with gardai put on emergency standby, the only significant change at the jail has been the installation of the security device at a gate in the jail.

The installation of the palm scanner has freed up one officer, who has been allocated to the prison's controversial Separation Unit -- the source of the walkout.

Tension at the prison is now reported to have eased since last week's walk-out by prison officers. It was staged after the transfer of one of the State's most violent prisoners, Leroy Dumbrell (24), back to Mountjoy from Castlerea.


The installation of the electronic palm reader at a prison gate has freed up a prison officer who would normally have to stand guard at the gate.

The revelation comes as prison officers at the jail voted ed to ballot for industrial action.

Details of the action -- over staffing levels at the prison -- have not been revealed.

Last week's walkout came days after a young prison officer received 16 stitches to the face after he was slashed by a prisoner housed in the Separation Unit four days before the walkout.

A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told the Herald: "The governor has agreed to the redeployment of one prison officer to the Separation Unit."

A source said the extra prison officer became available because of a new electronic palm reader at the institution.

"There are a number of proposals on the table and these new electronic palm readers, which are already in operation in Irish prisons, is just one of them," the source said.

The ballot over staffing levels at the Separation Unit followed the transfer there of Leroy Dumbrell, and subsequent walkout protest by staff.

Last week's dispute centred on the status of Dumbrell, who is serving an eight-year sentence for an unprovoked assault of an innocent man which resulted in the victim losing the sight in one eye.

A planned drugs crackdown by new Mountjoy governor Ned Whelan has added fuel to the already growing tensions inside the State's largest prison.

As part of the new policy, nets have been installed at a cost of €200,000 over exercise yards to prevent drugs being thrown in from outside.

In a move unrelated to the recent tension, five prisoners at the jail have been ordered to pay €1,000 each in compensation after damaging a holding cell.