New clampdown on prisoners’ phones

The Prison Service has confirmed that a blocking system on prisoners' phones will be operational in the Midlands Prison next month and in Portlaoise in four months time.

Tighter screening of prison visitors will also be introduced to prevent drugs being brought in for inmates.

However, Fine Gael has criticised the delay in implementing the tighter security measures.

Fine Gael’s justice spokesperson Charlie Flanagan has said 2,000 mobile phones were confiscated last year and 40,000 prisoners tested positive for drugs in the past three years.

He further claimed that successive Justice Ministers have allowed a prison regime to exist where security was well down the agenda.

The Irish Prison Service gave a qualified welcome to today's announcement.

"The director general of the Irish Prison Service would like to thank the Prison Officers' Association for their support on the roll-out of a comprehensive range of security measures aimed at combatting the trafficking of contraband into our prisons," a statement said.

"However, the director general would like to point out that the governor of the largest prison in Northern Ireland, Maghaberry, (previously described by the POA as a model of operational excellence) has confirmed that, like Irish governors, he and his deputies, for operational reasons, always carry mobile phones in the prison."

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