Riot squad officers were confronted with 60 prisoners who refused to leave an exercise yard at Cloverhill Prison and forcibly removed 15 ringleaders, many armed with improvised weapons.
Separate, and unrelated, to this, the courts experienced “significant delays” of up to two hours after prison officers tasked with escorting inmates staged a “wildcat industrial action”.
Some 42 members of Dublin Prison Service Escort Corp (PSEC) turned up for work without their driving licences, meaning they could not bring prisoners to the Criminal Courts of Justice.
The Courts Service said several people arrested by gardaí on Tuesday evening “had to be released” because prison officers were not available to bring them from custody to court in time.
The security problem at Cloverhill Prison continued yesterday evening as two inmates remained on the prison roof staging a protest.
They accessed the roof at around 11am, followed some time later by a linked protest at the B Yard in the west Dublin prison.
Some 60 inmates in the yard refused to leave at 12pm. Prison authorities identified a core of 15 ringleaders, who committed acts of criminal damage. They demolished soccer goals and used the metal posts, along with security razor wiring, as improvised weapons.
One of the ringleaders is a criminal who has repeatedly engaged in violence in several prisons. The 29-year-old is from a notorious criminal family from Dublin’s south inner city.
Wheatfield Prison, located adjacent to Cloverhill Prison, was put on lockdown and staff were transferred to assist with the riot.
With their colleagues in Cloverhill, they formed control and restraint teams and prepared to enter the yard.
Attempts were made to negotiate with the two prisoners, described as young low level criminals, on the roof. At one stage they appeared to agree to come down, then changed their minds.
The IPS said the situation in the yard “worsened with one prisoner being subject to a serious assault by some of the prisoners present”.
The Irish Examiner understands the ringleaders took a foreign prisoner hostage. They broke his arm and slashed his face with razor wiring or a blade, inflicting a serious injury.
This forced an intervention at 1.25pm.
“At this stage the governor instructed control and restraint teams to enter the yard and remove non-compliant prisoners of which there were approximately 15,” said an IPS spokesman.
Eleven prisoners were brought to hospital with injuries.
The IPS had to deal with a separate incident yesterday morning when 42 officers attached to Dublin PSEC turned up for work without their driving licences.
The IPS condemned this as “wildcat industrial action” by individual staff over roster changes and “in total contravention” of industrial relations procedures.
It is understood the Prison Officers’ Association was not aware of the wildcat action — and declined to comment.
A Courts Service spokesman said: “Delays of up to two hours were experienced by all court users who were waiting for court to commence — including the judiciary, court staff, gardaí waiting to give evidence, members of the legal profession and those defendants and complainants awaiting hearings, decisions, and justice.
In addition, some suspects had to be let go: “Several people arrested by An Garda Síochána last evening — and who legally had to appear before a court before midday — had to be released by the courts as time allowed for their detention ran out, due to the lack of prison personnel to bring them from the custody area to court on time.”
The IPS said the action of PSEC staff was a “serious breach of discipline” and would be dealt with under “appropriate disciplinary procedures”.