Mountjoy probe over Treacy’s RTÉ interview

THE governor of Mountjoy women’s prison has launched an investigation into “unauthorised” phone contact by Teresa Treacy, the 65-year-old jailed for refusing the ESB access to her land.

The Offaly farmer, who is serving her 22nd day behind bars, was interviewed on a phone line from her cell by RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan for Tuesday’s Prime Time.

She was jailed on September 13 for disobeying a court order to allow the ESB onto her land to remove trees for the construction of a power line.

In the interview, which seemed to have been cut off within minutes, she said the women in the jail were very protective of her and that she wanted the power lines placed underground.

The programme said that she was allowed one six-minute phone call a day and she used this time to speak to the programme’s presenter.

During “topical issues” time in the Dáil yesterday, the minister responsible for the ESB, Pat Rabbitte, was urged to intervene in the case.

While the minster was not present, his colleagues said he had no power in cases where a person is committed to prison for contempt of court.

Labour’s Kathleen Lynch, answering questions on behalf of the minister, said she was taking on board concerns raised by opposition TDs.

“I think common sense should prevail and some kind of mediation should take place.

“I would have every sympathy for the woman. But it is not possible for the ESB to purge that contempt. This is an issue between Teresa Treacy and the High Court,” she said.

The prison has procedures allowing a certain number of phonecalls to agreed phone lines.

“While there was a request for an interview, this was refused due to the court proceedings involved,” Ms Lynch told the Dáil.

“However, unauthorised contact was subsequently made and I understand that the Irish prison service will be following up on this.”

Socialist TD Claire Daly said the state agency was acting like “bully boys” towards a powerless citizen.

Her party leader, Joe Higgins, said that ESB chief executive, Pádraig McManus, should “immediately withdraw the injunction, have Teresa Treacy freed and proceed by agreement.”

Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance said his party had not been granted access to visit Ms Treacy and was “getting the runaround” from prison authorities.

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