By Sarah Slater
An entire wing of a top security prison remains on lock down due to safety concerns of officers.
Up to 17 staff, including two senior prison officers, are understood to have been informed yesterday Friday by prison management that they were being transferred to Cloverhill prison in two weeks time .
The move, follows a walkout by the officers and staff last week due to an officer being assaulted in Wing C, which houses, the majority of the gangland prisoners such as Kinahan gang members and subversives.
Portlaoise prison is located on the same campus as the Midlands prison.
According to a former top security manager at the prison, “staff, which total 17, have been concerned for some time over their safety and have voiced their concerns again and again. Many of them have worked from between 10 and 15 years at the prison.
“But the fact that one of them was assaulted last week was the final straw. They knew nothing about the proposed move until being informed yesterday, (Friday)” the source added.
It is understood, the officers affected have been given until June 2, to prepare for the move to Cloverhill prison which is 79kms from Portlaoise.
“Many of the those affected are particularly annoyed by this impasse because of the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan being from the area. They believe he has not addressed their safety concerns despite them being voiced again and again.
“The reason behind Wing C remaining on lockdown is because the prison doesn’t have enough staff to deal with the prisoners now.”
It is understood, that meetings with the Prison Officers Association (POA) and the Irish Prison Service (IPS), were urgently convened at the Department of Justice, to deal with the serious situation at the prison.