Claims that prison officers are stealing materials to sell on the internet and using other prison items to renovate their homes are being sent to the Garda Commissioner by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry made the explosive allegations after being contacted by a number of prison staff.
Among the allegations made using Dáil privilege by Mr MacSharry at yesterday’s meeting with the Department of Justice were:
- Prison officers taking items from prison workshops and stores to “sell on the internet”
- Officers who are “using the prison workshop to make improvements to personal, family, or holiday homes”
- And if some staff are linked to other “private enterprises” and are using prison equipment “to supplement their private stores”
“Are the department or the Irish Prison Service aware of an incidence of a prison service employee, with responsibility for stores in prisons, who was selling prison items on the internet? Was this person allowed to resign?” asked Mr MacSharry, before reading out a series of questions on which the Fianna Fáil TD said he has sought private legal advice.
However, the Department of Justice secretary general, Aidan O’Driscoll, refused to respond to the claims and separate allegations from Mr MacSharry that “profiles” of some prison officers and their movements outside of the facilities have been drawn up by State-linked surveillance teams, saying: “You might be putting certain things on the record, but I’m not here today to talk about prison issues.”
Mr MacSharry said that he has been told of the concerns by prison personnel, with other prison officer sources telling the Irish Examiner that they are aware of a handful of such cases.
In addition, prison officer sources told this newspaper last night that a circular was sent to all prisons during the past week ordering officers to no longer buy anything from prison tuck-shops.
However, despite the allegations, a number of PAC members declined to support Mr MacSharry’s claims, including Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien who told the committee he is “uncomfortable” with the line of questioning.
After listening to the evidence, PAC chairman and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said he will send the full transcript of Mr MacSharry’s claims to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in the coming days.
Mr Fleming said it is up to Mr Harris to investigate if any wrongdoing has occurred, adding that his role as PAC chairman means he is obliged to send allegations of wrongdoing to the Garda commissioner.