Prison officer ‘may lose home’ due to loss of income after making claims of malpractice

A whistleblower in the Irish Prison Service has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar complaining that his family is in danger of losing their home over financial penalties being imposed on him because he made claims of malpractice.

Prison officer ‘may lose home’ due to loss of income after making claims of malpractice

The prison officer’s case is currently before the Work Relations Commission, but it has been delayed because the prison service refused to accept he had made the protected disclosure despite the disclosure having been confirmed by a retired judge who investigated the matter.

The prison officer’s case was reviewed by judge William Early, who found that he had been penalised as a result of his disclosure in 2014 about unqualified personnel being appointed to specialist roles in one of the state’s prisons.

The prison officer recently wrote to Mr Varadkar, saying that he is now faced with “the prospect of having my family home repossessed because I cannot meet the regular mortgage repayments”.

“The penalisation that he [Judge Early] found is evidenced in my payslip which is some €20,000 less than my peers for the nine months to September,” he wrote.

“Over the last three years, the total loss of salary would be approx. €65,000.”

Judge Early, whose report was published last February, also found that the prison officer had witnessed an assault by a prisoner on a colleague but had not been asked for a witness statement as a result of how he was now regarded within the service.

The Irish Examiner understands that the garda investigation into that matter has now been reopened following an appeal by the injured prison officer to obtain a statement from the whistleblower.

The whistleblower’s wife has also received counselling through the prison service for stress related to her husband’s treatment over the last three years.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who is familiar with the case, says it is just one of a number that is now emerging from the prison service.

“He has been blackguarded,” Mr McGuinness says. “He’s lost out on payments and his wife is suffering terribly.

“It’s an indication of the culture within the Department of Justice and the prison service that they are not interested whether or not you have a legitimate claim but they are interested in protecting the status quo.

“There are now a number of prison officers who are out sick as a result of assaults and other incidents and they not getting any back-up and having wages cut.

“It’s turning into a national scandal in terms of a number of them coming forward with complaints.”

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