Mountjoy prison officers slashed by inmate

Two prison officers were slashed with a makeshift blade yesterday, one across his forehead, in an attack carried out by an inmate with a “track record” of assaulting jail staff.

One of the officers was lucky to escape with his sight after he received cuts above one of this eyes and across his temple, and his arm.

A second officer suffered cuts to his hand in the incident, which occurred in the Challenging Behaviour Unit of Mountjoy Prison at 8am.

The Prison Officers’ Association said it was particularly concerned at the attack given that the prisoner involved had a “proven track record” for serious assaults on officers and other professionals.

The prisoner is also awaiting trial over a serious incident in prison. The inmate is serving multiple sentences for violent attacks, including one involving torture. According to prison sources, he had been subject to a security regime known as barrier handling. This dictates that only officers in riot gear can interact with the inmate.

It is understood that this security regime was removed six months ago following a review and cassessment of his behaviour.

Sources said the attack occurred at 8am when officers were supplying the inmate his breakfast at his cell in the CBU in C Base of Mountjoy.

“He came out of his cell and slashed two prison officers with a shiv who were feeding him at the time,” said one source. “One was cut above the eye and across the temple and on the arm and the other was slashed on the hand.”

A shiv is a makeshift weapon, often comprising a blade inserted into the likes of a toothbrush, or other sharpened implements.

The source added: “The prisoner has a long history of violence and had been on barrier handling to ensure staff safety but had been removed from this regime in the last year.”

A spokesman for the Prison Officers’ Association said: “We are asking how a prisoner with a proven track record for serious violence against prison officers was taken off a regime that protected staff.”

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: “We can confirm the incident occurred and we reiterate the view of the director general that any act of violence against our staff is unacceptable and that these matters will be referred to the proper authorities for action.”

The prison service is due to open a Violent Disruptive Prisoner Unit next month. The national unit, in the Midlands Prison, can house up to five of the most violent of inmates. The service provides support programmes for assaulted officers.

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