Prison Service staff face leak probe

CIVIL servants at Prison Service headquarters are being questioned by a retired senior garda regarding the leaking of a sensitive internal report on Mountjoy Prison to the Irish Examiner.

The former detective has been appointed by Irish Prison Service (IPS) director general Brian Purcell to interview staff at IPS headquarters in Longford to determine how the audit got into the public domain and who was responsible.

The audit, which was carried out in June 2007, said the jail was like a “pressure cooker” because of the rise in prisoner numbers, which then stood at 540.

Despite its own warning, the population continued to rise and by June of this year stood at around 600.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) said there was a “real prospect” of the State being sued over toilet practices in the prison after the report said it was a serious legal issue and one that had to be addressed.

All staff at Prison Service headquarters in Longford are civil servants, from clerical rank up to deputy secretary rank of the director general. The legal status of the investigation is unclear as the Prison Service refused to comment.

One source said the investigation was being conducted under the Official Secrets Act 1963, and could lead to a formal Garda investigation, depending on the findings. It is not known whether the Department of Justice or Justice Minister Dermot Ahern have been informed.

The two unions representing senior and middle-ranking civil servants, the Association of Higher Public and Civil Servants and the Public Service Executive Union, declined to comment on the investigation.

There was no response from the Civil Public and Services Union, which represents clerical workers.

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