A major rift has opened up among management in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) amid allegations about bullying, intimidation, and the monitoring of communications.
One senior figure in the service has brought a series of complaints to the Department of Justice, about two colleagues whom he claims have undermined his position.
The complaints were so serious it was deemed necessary that the Department adjudicate on the matter, instead of it being done within the IPS.
- That the complainant believes his communication is being monitored as a result of the dispute with his two colleagues;
- That he has been undermined in attempting to implement policy, particularly in relation to time-management for prison staff;
- That one of the senior figures told him that junior staff members were lining up to accuse him of bullying, some four months before a claim of bullying — which he denies — was made against him.
- That his senior colleague was colluding with junior members to forward a claim of bullying;
- That he has been unfairly targeted over a confidentiality breach from a high-level meeting, where a prejudicial remark was made about a person who had applied for a senior post in the service.
- That he was constantly “undermined”, including “undermining me by attacking my character, rather than addressing my request for help to deal with my concerns about another senior manager”.
The allegations refer to an extended period, believed to be more than a year, during which time the complainant believes he has been unfairly targeted by his colleagues, over a dispute with one of them about work practices.
The complainant alleges that, in that period, he has been undermined, targeted for negative treatment, and had his reputation maligned and that he has suffered isolation.
His complaint, lodged with the Department of Justice in the last two weeks, lists more than 40 grounds on which he believes he has suffered at the hands of his two colleagues.
While a whole series of incidents are listed in the complaint, no specific documentary evidence has been included to back up the claims, at this stage.
One source in the area says that the complaint is highly unusual, in that it has gone to the Department.
The IPS, while coming under the auspices of the Department of Justice, largely operates with a great degree of autonomy and has no oversight body, apart from the Inspector of Prisons, which is primarily concerned with the treatment of prisoners.
Questions submitted to the Department of Justice about the complaint were not answered at the time of going to print.