Sharp rise in assaults in Castlerea Prison

There was a 20 per cent rise in the number of assaults in Castlerea Prison last year, with an average of more than two assaults committed each week.

  Statistics released by the Irish Prison Service under the Freedom of Information Act show that, in 2015, there were 129 assaults committed, comprised of 118 assaults on fellow prisoners and 11 assaults on staff.

  The figures represent a big increase on 2014 when there were a total of 104 assaults: 95 involving a prisoner on a fellow inmate and nine by a prisoner on a prison officer.

  Gabriel Keaveny, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, expressed grave concern at the news.

  He said that the rise at Castlerea Prison was consistent with other jails across the country and that, in some cases, the assaults were serious.

  “There is a lot more violence in prisons: a lot more staff being seriously injured, as opposed to intervening with two prisoners or whatever,” he said.

  “The violence is getting more significant.”

  Mr. Keaveny said that the POA were involved in discussions with the Irish Prison Service in relation to the ‘violenty disruptive prisoner policy’, in which a number of prisoners were being dealt with.

  “They are extremely dangerous and extremely violent prisoners, and Castlerea has some of those as well in their challenging behaviour units,” he said. 

  With gangland crime rampant in society at the moment, especially with the Kinehan-Hutch murder feud in Dublin, Mr. Keaveney said: “Unfortunately, what is going on in society is reflected within the prisons.”

  He was highly critical of what he said was management’s lack of action in dealing with assaults inside prison walls.

  Mr. Keaveny also said that prison officers were reluctant to defend themselves properly in the face of aggression.

  “We have a huge number of complaints being made against prison staff and you nearly have to wait to be assaulted at this stage before you can defend yourself, for fear of complaints being made against you,” he said.

  “There are hundreds and hundreds of vexacious complaints being made against staff, and no one will deal with them.”