Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (71)

Dinny McGinley

Question:

64 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if arrangements have been made to use troops in the event of a prison officers industrial dispute. [29358/03]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

At its meeting on 29 September 2003, the Government established a group comprising the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Finance and myself to deal with the evolving industrial relations situation in the Prison Service, including putting in place contingency arrangements in the event of industrial action. In line with this decision, I can confirm that a considerable amount of contingency planning has been undertaken regarding the possible use of Garda and Defence Force personnel in the event of industrial action in the prisons. I can also confirm that, in such a situation, the Defence Forces will play a significant role. Pursuant to that role, army personnel have been engaged in a familiarisation process which has included a series of visits to the prisons. The Deputy will appreciate that, for obvious operational and security reasons, I am not in a position to go into the details of the arrangements which have been put in place.

I would also refer the Deputy to my written reply to Question No. 398 on 9 December 2003.