Hospitalisations of Mountjoy prisoners branded ‘shocking’

Fíona Ní Chinnéide
Fíona Ní Chinnéide

The number of Irish prisoners who have been hospitalised as a result of assaults, self-harm and drug incidents - particularly at Mountjoy Prison - is “shocking”, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has said.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) released figures for the period between January 2014-September 2016 on the back of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from The Irish Times.

There were 73 prisoners hospitalised due to actual or suspected assaults, with 34 (47 per cent) of those being from Mountjoy Prison.

There were also 21 hospitalisations of Mountjoy prisoners related to self-harm, more than at any other Irish prison.

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, IPRT acting executive director, told Irish Legal News: “These figures come as no surprise, but are no less shocking for that. The ongoing levels of violence and intimidation in Irish prisons, particularly in Mountjoy Prison, must be addressed.

“In 2015, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) stated that violence in Irish prisons ‘remains far too high’ noting poor recording of incidents of inter-prisoner violence in some of the prisons, including Mountjoy, and recommending that every instance of inter-prisoner violence resulting in an injury be reported to An Garda Síochána, so that Irish prisons do not become ‘places of impunity’.

“The Committee also stated that the duty of care owed by prison staff to people in prison includes a clear responsibility to protect them from other inmates who wish to cause them harm, and emphasised the role of staff training in dynamic security and intervention techniques in improving prisoner safety.”

Ms Ní Chinnéide added: “The high number of hospitalisations due to self-harm, again disproportionately from Mountjoy Prison, are of equal concern and raise questions about responses to prisoner mental health issues in that prison.

“Mountjoy accounted for over half of prisoner deaths through suicide since 2012, according to published reports of the Inspector of Prisons.

“Greater efforts need to be made by the Irish Prison Service to reduce incidents of self-harm, through increased provision of mental health and drug treatment services and drug free landings, alongside measures to address the supply of drugs in prison.”

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