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Riot officers and dogs called in to quell racist protest

Up to ten prisoners may be transferred out of Mountjoy jail after an hour-long protest linked to a verbal racist attack on a prison officer.

Up to 70 officers in riot gear and dogs were brought in as a sitdown pre-lunch protest yesterday was organised by a disgruntled inmate.

He had been given a "P19" which means he was put on report for abusing a black officer. The prisoner, who has recently been transferred to the jail from England, was backed up by over 100 others as the lunchtime protest was staged in the D recreation yard of the Dublin jail.

Recently appointed Governor Ned Whelan, who has earned a reputation for his "get tough" regime, was on hand during the incident. As the officers in riot gear and Alsatian dogs took up positions, officers managed to convince the prisoners to abandon their protest.

They then returned to their cells with incident and were locked in. But the prison authorities immediately moved on the individual who began the protest -- as well as accomplices -- and they were moved out of the jail last night.

A prison source said: "There had been an incident where a black officer was subjected to verbal abuse and placed an inmate on a P19, or on report.

"He was not pleased with this and managed to get others to join him in his protest.

"Sixty or seventy staff were called in and were on standby to get them back into the cells before they decided to go back themselves.

"We understand that six prisoners were transferred to Portlaoise, the Midlands and Castlerea. That figure is expected to rise to ten when space becomes available for them".

There was an unrelated incident later at the jail last night. Three prisoners in another wing were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation after a cell was set on fire at around 8pm.

"As far as we know it had nothing to do with the earlier protest," said a senior officer.