Press Statement from Prison Officers Association, 7th May 2015
Speaking at the POA Annual Delegate Conference to day, President of the POA Stephen Delaney said, “Gang leaders must be properly isolated within prisons to ensure the safety of all Officers and Prisoners alike. We are told that any attempts to isolate these individuals will be resisted in the courts and will get significant support in some quarters. The POA want to again stress that if these dangerous and disruptive individuals are tackled head on, and real attempts are made to protect our members and the prison population; we will have safer and more manageable prisons. We all know the problems these high profile individuals create – the real challenge is doing something about it”.
Delaney went on to say, ‘To deal with the current challenges, we need recruitment as a matter of urgency. We are short staffed in all our prisons and with natural wastage alone, these staffing problems will increase. And need I say that when these new arrivals materialise what will there be there to greet them? Unfortunately it is going to be drugs, drugs and more drugs primarily driven by the gang members that we believe must be isolated from the main prison population”
Delaney then said, “Earlier this year the Irish Prison Service announced that the war on drugs was going to manifest itself with a three pronged approach; Enhanced Screening, Drug Free areas and confidential help lines. Great plan, however, we have heard it all before. The POA suggested at the commencement of the searching at the gate system in 2008 that EVERY person should be screened. This has not happened and we now have drugs in all our prisons and the main beneficiaries are the gang leaders who continue to profit – despite being behind bars”
Delaney concluded by saying, “We have no confidence in the introduction of a confidential helpline as proposed by the IPS. A confidential help line will only allow the gangs to subvert proper procedures by setting up some unwitting fool coming in as a decoy while some other method is employed to get drugs into prisons. Our main issue is safety, safety of our members and the prison population – and if we don’t get control of the gangs and the drugs in our prisons – the very serious safety issues will not be resolved”