IPRT calls for investigation into Facebook group for prison officers

IPRT calls for investigation into Facebook group for prison officers

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has called for a further investigation into a Facebook group for prison officers which allegedly includes racist and anti-Traveller material.

The Irish Times reported last week that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) has again asked the social media giant to remove the “Irish Jailers, Warders and Buckets” group.

The content of the group allegedly includes a video of a white prisoner attacking a black prisoner in Mountjoy Prison and racist comments about George Nkencho, whose killing by gardaí in December prompted protests across the country.

A spokesperson for the IPRT said: “If verified, these types of comments are clearly unacceptable, and incidents where mistreatment has occurred must be investigated thoroughly and independently if necessary.

“If any such comments were made by serving prison officers, they bring into question their fitness to carry out their duties. Officers working for the Irish Prison Service (IPS) must not engage in conduct or behave in a manner that could be discriminatory or undermine public confidence in the Irish Prison Service amongst any community.

“There is no doubt that posting such inappropriate and offensive material on social media is inappropriate in any public service, not least the prison service where people are at high risk of mistreatment and rights violation.”

The group added: “While IPRT notes the reported action by the IPS to have the Facebook group removed, it is clear that further investigation is needed, and appropriate action must be taken.

“In particular, and having regard to the organisation’s section 42 duty to eliminate discrimination and promote equality, the IPS must investigate without delay whether any of the posts containing offensive and racist language were posted by serving prison officers. If so, it is clear that disciplinary action may be required.

“Racism or prejudice should not, and cannot, be tolerated in any prison system, and any evidence that staff have espoused such derogatory views about members of minority ethnic communities must receive a robust response from the IPS.”

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