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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 Nov 1999

Vol. 511 No. 3

Other Questions. - Prison Assaults.

Seán Ryan


36 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when inquiries will be concluded into violent incidents in Mountjoy Prison on 18 September 1999 and particularly the circumstances in which one prisoner received serious facial injuries which required hospital treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24321/99]

I am informed by the Director General of the Prison Service that the incident referred to by the Deputy arose on Saturday, 18 September 1999 in the wake of an assault on a prisoner by a number of other prisoners. When prison staff intervened, they in turn were attacked by a group of prisoners. Order was quickly restored and a number of prisoners were moved to other parts of the prison to relieve tension in the wing where the incident occurred. Eleven prison officers and one injured prisoner required hospital treatment. The injured prisoner required in-patient treatment and remained in hospital until 18 October 1999.

Two investigations are under way into the incident – an internal investigation by the Governor of Mountjoy Prison and a Garda investigation. The principal focus of both investigations is an alleged assault on the injured prisoner. Arising from the incident, a prison officer has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigations.

As the two investigations in question are ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further at this stage. I request and strongly advise the House that we should avoid at this time getting into further detail about the incident and the individuals involved as this could be subsequently deemed prejudicial to ongoing investigations and to have tainted any subsequent court proceedings that might arise or disciplinary action.

When will these two investigations be concluded? What will be the terms of reference of each investigation and who will be directly involved in carrying out the investigations?

As I have already stated, it is important that we do not prejudice any cases which may arise from the investigations. An investigation is being carried out by the Garda and within the Prison Service. I assure the Deputy that if at the end of these investigations an issue emerges which needs to be addressed, the appropriate action will be taken. The Director General of the Prison Service and the local prison management will have my full support in carrying out any required measures.

My question was not answered. Can the Minister tell me the names of those carrying out the investigations, the terms of reference and when it is expected they will conclude their deliberations and have a report for the House and the Minister?

I do not give terms of reference to anybody in relation to investigations. There are people employed to carry out investigations. I do not tell the Garda Síochána how it should carry out its investigations nor do I issue it or the Director General of the Prison Service with terms of reference. They are capable of adopting their own rules and have done so successfully in the past. I have no doubt they will continue to do so in the future.

Does the Minister know when the report will be published?

As soon as possible.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.