Thursday, 23 November 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. O'Connell: asked the Minister for Justice if he will indicate with regard to the recent disturbances in Portlaoise prison on whose authority the Army were called to stand by; and if his prior consent was sought and given.
As is already public knowledge, a number of prisoners in Portlaoise  prison staged what was described as a sit-down in the recreation hall on the evening of 13th November and in a landing of the prison the following day. On the first occasion the prisoners returned to their cells after some time. On the second, some of them had to be physically removed by the prison staff. In both instances the Garda and Army were called to the prison as a precautionary measure.
There are standing, long-established, arrangements whereby the local Garda officer is authorised to ask for military assistance if he thinks it necessary or prudent. As a matter of principle, I am not prepared to say what communication, if any, may take place between the Garda Síochána and me on a matter of this kind. What I would like to make clear, however, is that, in matters that pose a threat, actual or potential, to the security of a prison, the guiding principle is that no chances will be taken and Garda and military assistance will always be sought on that basis.
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