Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Portlaoise Prison Disturbances.

Thursday, 23 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 263 No. 13

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54.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. 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.

55.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  asked the Minister for Justice if he will make a statement regarding the recent disturbances at Portlaoise prison, County Laois.

Minister for Justice (Mr. O'Malley): Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 55 together.

As is already public knowledge, a number of prisoners in Portlaoise [2552] 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.

The visiting committee imposed dietary punishment and loss of remission and privileges on 90 prisoners who were involved in the incidents.

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.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  Was there damage done on this occasion?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I do not think so.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Was it the Garda officer to whom the Minister referred who actually requested the assistance of the Army?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Yes.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  The prison governor does not have that power.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  It is the Garda officer.


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