The gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are conducting separate investigations into an incident in Portlaoise Prison in which senior prison officers claimed their lives were put in danger by colleagues who disparaged them to some of the most dangerous criminals in the State.
Detectives from the Portlaoise district have interviewed prison officers about the incident and are now advancing to interview prisoners who were central to the issue, including the gangland figure Freddie Thompson.
The HSA opened its investigation on foot of a complaint from one of the senior officers who was targeted.
The matter came to the attention of prison authorities in May 2019 when Thompson made a complaint about three officers disparaging more senior officers in front of prisoners.
The junior officers were telling prisoners of their colleagues that one was “a fucking idiot” and that they will “tell you they will do something and then not do it, persons not to be believed".
One of the senior officers was a particular target, according to Thompson.
The junior officers targeting him “may put his life in danger if prisoners were to believe that he was lying”.
The complaint was investigated by an external investigator, John Naughton, who compiled a report in which he ruled that Thompson’s complaint had substance.
Two of the senior officers who were targeted have not returned to work since the incident.
The Garda investigation will determine whether there was any criminal culpability for the actions that were taken.
The HSA investigation is under the Health and Safety Act 2005 which obliges employers to provide a safe workplace for employees.