High praise for prison staff and inmates for Covid-19 fight delivered at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

coronavirus covid-19

Minister for Justice & Equality Helen McEntee visited the Midlands Prison where she met Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service

Hard work, dedication and attention to detail of prison staff in Portlaoise and other jails has been praised by the Minister Justice and Equality on a trip to the Laois town.

Minister Helen McEntee was in Portlaoise on Tuesday morning July 21 just a day into the return of limited physical visits to Irish prisons.      

“This morning I visited Midlands Prison and met with staff and management on site to thank them for all their work, particularly the work they have undertaken during Covid-19 to keep prisoners and staff safe.

“The fact that there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst the prison population in this country is testament to the hard work, dedication and attention to detail of those who manage and work in our Prison Service.

“I know that this has been an incredibly difficult time for prisoners and indeed for their families who have been unable to make physical visits to their loved ones since March. While video calls have been arranged between prisoners and their families in the interim, the work that has recently been undertaken in prisons across the State means that, from this week, physical visits to prisons can recommence on a carefully phased basis. 

More below picture.

Pictured Minister for Justice & Equality Helen McEntee visited the Midlands Prison where she met Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service

“Of course, the reintroduction of physical visits will be conducted in line with all public health guidance, with visitors temperature checked on arrival and provided with PPE to wear during visits, no physical contact allowed, sneeze screens in place in all visiting rooms, and a reduced number of visits facilitated each day. I am pleased that, alongside these arrangements, the innovation of video visits will continue and I recommend that families and loved ones of prisoners consult the website of the Irish Prison Service for further information on that facility.

“I also want to thank our prison population for their ongoing cooperation. They have worked closely with prison officers and management to keep the prison system Covid free, which has allowed us to begin to reintroduce physical visits at this time.

“As Minister for Justice, I also look forward to working with the Department of Health and the HSE on how best to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of those imprisoned,” concluded the TD.

The Irish Prison Service has been internationally recognised for its handling of the pandemic.