There was a major security incident in Portlaoise Prison last weekend when a prisoner in a high-security wing was not accounted for at evening lock-up and had to later approach prison officers and ask to be put into his cell.
The prisoner in E Block, which houses those convicted of subversive offences, approached prison officers who were having a cup of tea and requested that he be allowed into his cell half an hour after he was supposed to be locked up.
Each prisoner must be checked and counted when they are locked into their cells at night.
The prisoner, who is serving a sentence for explosive offences, approached the prison officers in the guard room at 8.50pm, half an hour after he was supposed to be locked up.
“He was just walking around the place and they didn’t spot him,” a source in the prison told the Irish Examiner.
“Then he had to go down and ask to be let into his cell.”
The incident was taken extremely seriously within the prison where armed soldiers are deployed because of the perceived threat that could be presented by subversives on E Block.
The Irish Examiner understands that this is the second time in the last year that a prisoner was unaccounted for in this manner. According to sources in the prison, an investigation launched after the previous incident has not yet concluded nearly a year later.
A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said the service would not be commenting on any internal security matter.
In March 2016, a prisoner was forced to spend the night in the exercise yard of Cork Prison after being locked out.in an exercise overnight. He was not accounted for at lock up on that occasion and spent the night outside until he was spotted at 7am the next day.
Cork Prison was newly opened at the time with a high tech security system that included 300 CCTV cameras.
The prisoner could be seen on one of the cameras jumping up and jogging to stave off the cold overnight as well as spending several hours shouting for help.