Security fears for prison staff after details found in cell

Prison officers held an emergency meeting with Prison Service chiefs yesterday after lists containing personal information of staff were found in the cell of a convicted IRA killer.

A security protocol, involving the Garda, swung into action when prison officers discovered the information during a search of Robert Duffy’s cell in Mountjoy Prison on Wednesday morning.

They found a list with details of the name, address, date of birth and family information of a prison governor and a second prison officer as well as a legal document containing the names of 18 other prison officers.

It is thought the legal document was from a book of evidence — which is a prosecution’s case in a criminal trial — in relation to an incident in Mountjoy Prison two years ago.

A Garda investigation is underway and an investigation has also been set up by Mountjoy governor Edward Whelan. Detectives will examine the trial and see what defendant or defendants it involved.

After the discovery, Mr Whelan made contact with the prison officers named and gardaí offered them security advice and conducted a security assessment.

It is understood the details of the governor, who is not the governor of Mountjoy, included directions to his home and a description of his property.

Two national officers from the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) met with senior management at the Irish Prison Service yesterday morning for an emergency meeting.

Jim Mitchell, POA deputy general secretary, said, “we engaged with the Prison Service immediately and the security protocol was enacted and all officers were contacted immediately.”

Mr Mitchell said the incident highlighted the dangers faced by prison staff, at all grades: “It goes to show the difficult environment we work in. That’s something we have to deal with all the time.”

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: “We treat any issue regarding the security of prison staff with the utmost seriousness. The Prison Service is investigating it and has referred it to gardaí, who are also investigating it.”

Investigators are in the process of verifying the accuracy of the information in relation to the governor and the second prison officer.

It is understood while the details regarding their homes and addresses were accurate, some personal details may have been inaccurate.

The IRA man, from Old Bridge, Toberna, Dundalk, was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for murdering a businessman in Belfast. Duffy, 36, was subsequently released under the Good Friday Agreement, but he was sent back to jail in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a man in Dundalk in 2007.


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