Portlaoise judge calls on Minister for Justice Flanagan to give more funds for prison drug crack down

Portlaoise judge says Minister Flanagan needs to give more resources to protect vulnerable people from criminal gangs

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Minister Charlie Flanagan at the United Nations.

Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan.

So serious is the drug problem in Irish prisons that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan should provide more resources to the gardaí and the prison service, to tackle the issue of vulnerable people being put under pressure from criminal gangs to smuggle controlled substances into jail.

So said Judge Catherine Staines at yesterday’s (Thursday, October 12) sitting of Portlaoise District Court, where she dealt with a number of separate cases where people claimed they had been threatened to bring drugs and other items into the Midlands Prison.

“I get hundreds of these charges before the court, where vulnerable people, mothers, fathers, girlfriends, wives, are being threatened to bring drugs in. In my opinion, the Minister should be giving resources to the gardaí and the prison services to set up a special unit to deal with these people who are threatening people to bring drugs into prison,” said Judge Staines.

She said that the court would have no hesitation in convicting these criminals, but nothing was being achieved in imprisoning vulnerable people like those who were being brought before her.

The judge’s remarks came in the case of Claire Long (40), Tipperary, who was detected at the Midlands Prison on July 21 this year with valium tablets valued at €400.

Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said it was a story the court had heard many times, with the accused approached by a former acquaintance of her partner, who she was visiting in prison, and told to bring in the drugs.

Defence said this person mentioned the accused’s exact address to her, as part of the intimidation. Mr Meagher said she had not reported this to the gardaí as she had been afraid to.

Said Judge Staines: “That’s what the gardaí are there for, to deal with these threats. There’s a huge amount of drugs going into the prisons and the only way this will stop is if people like you report it to the gardaí.”

The accused was convicted and fined €300.

In a separate case was Paulina Knapczyk (23), Clondalkin, who tried to pass a SIM card to her boyfriend, who was serving a sentence, on September 16.

Defence, Ms Louise Troy said her client had brought the item in as she was afraid for her boyfriend, who had been threatened.

Judge Staines convicted and fined her €300.

Also before the court was Aoife McEvoy (23), Bray.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that the accused was detected at the Midlands Prison with 33 tablets, cannabis herb, ecstasy, and amphetamines.

The total value of the drugs was €850.

Defence, Mr Barry Fitzgerald said his client’s partner at the time was involved in a feud in custody and the accused received a call from the gang involved.

The accused was convicted and fined €300.

Imprisonment rate drop have made prisons more manageable says Laois TD and Justice Minister READ STORY HERE

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