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Prisoner says he was raped by inmate

TWO investigations have been launched after a prisoner reported he was raped by another inmate in a west Dublin prison.

Sources have confirmed that gardai and the jail's governor are examining the rape allegation at Wheatfield Prison on Friday night.

The prisoner is serving a six-month sentence for arson and criminal damage. Sources say the man alleged he was attacked in the school area of the prison.

Gardai were notified and the man was treated at a sexual assault unit in hospital.

A Prison Service spokesman told the Herald: "We treat allegations of this nature very seriously and a full investigation is taking place."

After the alleged rape, the man who is in his 30s, was transferred back to the prison where he is on a special unit for his own protection. He is well-known to gardai for being involved in small-time crime.

The incident happened at a time of deep concern among officers about overcrowding and an "all-time low" in staff levels.

Attacked

"Things are very difficult here at the moment. Separately there have been a number of ongoing Traveller feuds which has increased the violence levels in the prison. As part of this situation, four prisoners were attacked in the exercise yard on Saturday and left with bad injuries," said a source.

The difficulties at Wheatfield Prison come just weeks after it emerged that women prisoners were forced to strip naked and searched for drugs in the presence of male guards at the country's biggest women's prison -- the Dochas Centre.

A Visiting Committee report found other females were denied toothbrushes and clean underwear.

The report was one of 14 published by the Justice Department this month that highlighted prison problems.

In May, a woman was forcibly removed from the Dochas Centre in circumstances that violated her human rights.

The prisoner -- who had psychiatric problems -- was due for release. She had nowhere to go and did not want to leave but was released in Dublin where she immediately committed a crime to get back in but was sent to Limerick.

kfoy@herald.ie


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