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Officer's nose is broken in prison attack

TWO prison officers have been treated in hospital after being attacked in separate incidents in Mountjoy jail. One man suffered a broken nose and other injuries in an incident which took place on the D3 landing at the weekend.

Last night another officer was taken to the Mater Hospital after being headbutted on the C3 landing which houses inmates on a low security basis.

Sources said that the officer injured at the weekend was struck by at least one inmate and pushed into a cell after he uncovered a mobile phone.

The prisoner attempted to retrieve the phone but was eventually overpowered and returned to a cell.

"The officer had his nose broken and a number of facial injuries. It happened on Saturday morning and was sparked off by the fact that one of the inmates was caught with a mobile," said the source.

In the attack last night, a second officer suffered facial injuries.

Prison sources expressed concern that the attack took place in an area assigned for inmates who are rewarded for good behaviour.

This is a part of the prison system's new "incentivised" scheme to reward those who obey the rules and restrict the conditions of those who don't.

Prison resources are stretched in the jail as it is currently at the end of a budgetary period, meaning less officers are available for duty.

At the same time the prison is overcrowded with 600 inmates, despite the fact that more than 150 sentenced prisoners are on temporary release.

The Prison Officers Association has in the past highlighted the increased violence.

They claim this is due to a combination of factors including the increasing influence of jailed gangland criminals and chronic overcrowding.

Staff members have been stabbed, had their jaws smashed, been jabbed with needles and attacked with deadly handmade weapons.

One officer was given compensation of more than €500,000, due to the severity of his injuries, according to figures obtained from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. Compensation was paid to 112 prison officers, who were injured or maimed at work in 2009. Assaults are running in the region of 1,000 a year across the system.