Iron bars do not a prison make - with mobile access
JOHN Gilligan regularly calls his wealthy drug gang associates on the Costa del Sol from his cell in Ireland's maximum security Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.
Visits to the Midlands Prison, particularly on Sundays when staffing levels are reduced, are still "open" - meaning that the men officially designated the most dangerous criminals in the State have physical contact with their visitors.
Sixty mobile phones were seized in the E1 wing of the Midlands jail last year. This is the wing from where one of the country's most dangerous young criminals, John Daly, mocked the justice system on Tuesday when he rang RTE's Liveline to abuse and threaten Sunday World crime editor, Paul Williams, whom he called a "f***ing liar".
Giovanni di Stefano, the convicted fraudster, has been making regular prison visits to some of Dublin and Limerick's most dangerous criminals. Further, an axis has been formed between the biggest and most dangerous crime gangs in Ireland with most of the organising coming from inside jails. Orders for executions, drug trafficking and importation of arms are being directed on mobile phones from inside what are supposed to be secure institutions.
Photographs of Paul Williams's home, taken by murdered gangster Martin 'Marlo' Hyland, were placed on the internet within 45 minutes of the Liveline show on Tuesday. Gardai believe that constituted a threat to Mr Williams who is back under armed Garda protection.
Prison officers have been beaten up and some are believed to have succumbed to either threats or bribery to bring contraband, including mobile phones, in prison. A number of officers are currently under investigation.
The isolation of dangerous criminals is a pressing necessity now unless we are to see the emergence of a nationwide criminal conspiracy. Two detectives in Dublin are currently deemed to be under a specific threat and their homes have been placed under protection. Another detective learned recently that a ?10,000 bounty has been placed on his head by west Dublin criminals. Prison officers deal with almost daily threats from inmates.
John Daly's call to Liveline from his cell in the supposed maximum security wing in Portlaoise should be a wake-up call for the entire country.
It should be noted that within the past few weeks AK47 assault rifles were recovered by gardai in Finglas and Rialto in Dublin and in Cork. All came from the same shipments organised in tandem by Dublin and Limerick criminals in prison. The Cork find included RPG rocket launchers which were believed to be a present to dissident republicans for providing the "ordinary" criminals with bombs, and training the crooks in the use of them.
On the evening of February 25, 2004, nine phone calls were made on a mobile phone from Mountjoy Prison to a man sitting with his girlfriend in the Red Lion pub on Cork Street in Dublin's Coombe area. The calls were from the leader of one of two south inner-city drugs gangs engaged in a bloody feud that has claimed 10 lives since 2001. The man receiving the calls was watching 23-year-old Paul Warren as he drank with friends. Shortly after 11pm, two masked gunmen entered the bar. While one stood in the doorway stopping people from entering or leaving, the other walked over to Warren and shot him at point blank range in the head. He then leaned over Warren as he lay sprawled on the floor and fired a further two shots, again into his victim's head.
Three minutes after the gunmen left, a call was made from the mobile phone in the bar to the phone in a cell in Mountjoy Prison, presumably to say the job was done. The mobile phone traffic was traced as part of the investigation into the cold-blooded murder of Paul Warren.
In the run-up to the seizure last month in Cork of a firearms shipment (including two rocket launchers bound for the McCarthy-Dundon gang in Limerick), mobile phone traffic was again intercepted as the movement of the weapons was monitored from Wheatfield Prison by two leading members of the Dundon gang.
Last November, two prisoners were arrested over the murder of mother-of-two Baiba Saulite, 28, when it was found they had been in contact with a mobile phone near the young woman's home in Swords shortly before she was shot dead.
In April 2004, a Ballyfermot gang leader imprisoned in Mountjoy jail directed the murder of 25-year-old Jonathan O'Reilly as he sat in a car outside Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin.
However, it took a call from a cell in E1 Block in the high security Midlands Prison to Liveline for the issue to come to public attention. John Daly, one of the country's most violent young criminals, who has terrorised dozens of people and who has threatened to kill gardai, finally brought the issue of the easy access to mobile phones in prison to Joe Duffy's listenership.
The call from Portlaoise was preceded by a prolonged and abusive call from the Finglas criminal, Alan 'Fat Puss' Bradley, who rang 29 minutes into the show after a discussion between Paul Williams and Sinn Fein's Christy Burke over connections between IRA organised crime in Dublin and Sinn Fein.
Bradley launched into an attack on Paul Williams, saying: "Ninety nine per cent of what you write is rubbish." Within seconds Williams had identified Bradley, saying: "This is Alan 'Fat Puss' Bradley - a major figure in organised crime."
Williams informed listeners that Bradley is facing a ?380,000 demand from the CAB which Bradley claims is being successfully appealed. He accused Williams of stirring up trouble between himself and John Daly, and said that claims that he had to flee the country before Daly's due release date were false. He told Williams that he had sent a postcard from Spain to Daly in Portlaoise Prison and that the two were on good terms. He continued to accuse Williams of telling lies. After a number of other callers, Bradley again interjected, calling Williams a "f***ing liar".
Speaking from his jail cell, Daly then joined in Bradley's tirade against Paul Williams and the Sunday World, saying: "Do they know how much lies they write?" Paul Williams then told listeners that Daly is serving a jail term for armed robbery. "That was back in 1999. I was 19. I got nine years I'm finishing off."
Noises were then heard in the background as prison officers arrived at the cell and Daly could be heard saying: "How's it going? How's it going?" He then accused Williams of attempting to "make up lies to start a street war".
Liveline listeners then heard a brief exchange between Daly and Bradley in which Daly thanked him for his postcard and told him he is going to "go on holiday" with Bradley when he gets out.
His call ended with a line addressed to Williams: "Get off the phone, you f***king liar." Seconds later Bradley came back on and said to Williams: "You're a lying c***," before hanging up.
Throw into the mix the services of former IRA terrorists now working full-time in organised crime and Traveller gangs heavily involved in drugs and firearms, who move back and forth from Britain and the Continent, and you have a very potent threat to the security of the State - the worst since the Seventies when the IRA was murdering gardai and threatening to undermine the justice system.
The situation for dealing with dangerous criminals in prison is different elsewhere. In the USA, the authorities have built dozens of prisons since the early Eighties to cater specifically for criminals deemed a threat to national and public safety.
Known as "super-max" (for super-maximum security), the inmates are under a regime where they are kept in their cells for 23 hours a day and have no physical contact or communication with other prisoners.
There is no opportunity for them to receive contraband from visitors as they are separated from their visitors by a Perspex or reinforced glass screen and speak through an intercom. Their cells have no TVs or other luxuries.
Described by civil rights activists as "human zoos", the super-maxes are at the extreme end of the penal regime. But, their supporters argue, if people act like animals, then a zoo is the right place for them.