Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Prison officers in Castlerea have expressed alarm at a haul of goods, which included a taser and charger, a dozen mobile phones, an estimated €1,000 worth of drugs, and dozens of litres of illegal prison alcohol — hooch, at the jail last week.

The discovery was made in the Grove area of the prison, a development of nine houses on the prison grounds. The goods, which are believed to have been smuggled in or thrown over the prison wall, were discovered in a search of three of the housing blocks.

An informed source told the Roscommon Herald that prison officers were expressing serious concern about the category of prisoner housed in the Grove area. It is their belief that many of the estimated 40 prisoners in that area are not suitable for the less formal prison regime operating at the Grove. It is understood that prison officers have expressed concerns for their safety and the safety of other staff and prisoners. It is also believed that they are now seeking that a full search of the nine housing units in the Grove area be undertaken.

In a statement issued to the Roscommon Herald, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) confirmed that following an intelligence- led operation, “a significant amount of contraband” was discovered in the Grove area on September 10th and 11th.

The IPS confirmed it was carrying out an investigation into the incident and said the prevention of access of contraband into prisons remained “a high priority. Concerted efforts are made on a continuous basis to prevent the flow of drugs into prisons”.

The IPS conceded “constant improvements are required” citing additional security measures such as the introduction of a free confidential telephone line. The service is also aware of an increase in the use of drones over the last couple of years and measures are in place to counteract same.

“Existing measures include regular patrols by staff, monitoring of cameras, exercise yards have netting fitted to prevent contraband being dropped or thrown into that area,” the statement concluded.

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