Call for action after prison officer assaulted in court

Gardaí are investigating an assault on at least one prison officer by an inmate during a busy court sitting in Dublin.

Prison sources said the officer was headbutted and punched in the face during the attack, which happened

at Cloverhill District Court.

The sources said a second prison officer was also assaulted as he went to the aid of his colleague and that both were brought to hospital.

When the prisoner was taken back to Cloverhill Prison, a further attack on a third prison officer is reported to have occurred.

Earlier this week, two prison officers were slashed, including one across his forehead, by a prisoner armed with a makeshift blade at Mountjoy Prison.

The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) expressed serious concern at ongoing assaults on officers and repeated calls for staff to be issued with personal protection equipment, such as telescopic batons and incapacitant sprays.

The Prison Service confirmed one prison officer was assaulted at Cloverhill courthouse, but could not confirm the staff member was headbutted.

Gardaí said they were investigating the assault at the courthouse, as well as the subsequent attack in the remand prison.

Garda sources did not say that the officer had been headbutted, but confirmed he had been punched in the face.

The incident occurred after a female friend of the prisoner moved from the body of the court and tried to get towards him friend.

A Garda sergeant directed her to move back, but she later attempted to approach the prisoner again and a prison officer told her to move away. At this stage, the prisoner attacked the officer.

Prison officer sources insisted that their colleague was headbutted twice and punched in the face and that a second officer was also struck. Both officers are attached to the Prison Service Escort Corps.

Sources said that when the prisoner was taken back to Cloverhill Prison, the inmate attacked a third officer.

POA general secretary John Clinton said: “The POA again expresses its very serious concern regarding assaults on prison officers. We have requested that standard PP [personal protection] equipment be issued, such as telescopic batons and incapacitant sprays.”

An Irish Prison Service (IPS) spokesman said:

“We can confirm an incident occurred at Cloverhill court-house in which a PSEC [Prison Service Escorts Corps] officer was assaulted and these matters have been referred to the authorities.”

IPS boss Michael Donnellan has repeatedly said any attack on staff is unacceptable and support services are available for those affected.

Gardaí have confirmed the assaults took place and that they were investigating.

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