Prison officers 'urged inmates to attack colleagues'

Prison officers 'urged inmates to attack colleagues'

The issue first came to light in 2019,  when Freddie Thompson made a complaint that three junior officers were bad-mouthing three more senior officers to prisoners. Picture: Colin Keegan/Collins

A Garda file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on allegations that officers in Portlaoise Prison incited some of the most dangerous prisoners in the country to attack other officers.

A large number of prison officers are understood to have been interviewed in the investigation, along with prisoners held in the most secure block in the prison, including Freddie Thompson, who is serving a life sentence for murder.

The issue came to light in 2019 when Thompson made a complaint that three junior officers were bad-mouthing three more senior officers to prisoners, and putting their safety in danger.

Other prisoners and at least two other prison officers, unconnected to the issue, confirmed the broad thrust of the complaint, which was upheld by the investigator, John Naughton.

However, the three junior officers did not receive any disciplinary sanctions.

One of the reasons given for not applying sanction was the passage of time since the original complaint.

Two of the senior officers allegedly targeted have not returned to work, and the Irish Prison Service (IPS) accepts their absence is due to “work-related injury”.

In 2021, one of these senior officers made a complaint to gardaí about the matter, which led to a Garda investigation.

The second officer made a protected disclosure alleging that a delay of more than seven months in issuing the Naughton report, further put his safety in danger.

The disclosure was investigated by Mazaar’s which found this officer’s “health and safety in the workplace was severely compromised” and that “there was a failure by IPS to deal with the findings of an investigation in a timely manner”.

The gardaí investigating the matter could not use the Naughton or Mazaar’s reports as evidence, and are obliged to gather their own evidence for a prosecution.

It is unclear yet whether all the personnel who were willing to co-operate with the earlier reports were equally forthcoming in the Garda investigation. The Garda file was completed during the summer and yesterday An Garda Síochána confirmed it is now with the DPP.

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