18 Aug 2022

Prison electrical fire in Portlaoise puts entire wing out of commission

midlands prison

Prison Officers outside the Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

An electrical fault looks to have been the cause of fire at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise which has put an entire wing of the prison out of commission, according to the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

In a statement, the IPS confirmed that there was a fire in the attic area of the E Division of the Portlaoise jail. Crews from the Laois County Fire and Rescue Service were called and the fire early Tuesday morning, April 12 was extinguished.

It said there has been damage to some non-residential plant room area of the division which has impacted. 

"There is currently no power to most of the affected area and the Irish Prison Service are taking all reasonable steps to rehouse prisoners that have to be moved as a result of the electrical power issue," it said.

While there were no injuries the prison service also insisted that safety systems had not failed.

"The Irish Prison Service can confirm that all the relevant safety systems worked as expected. The prison service is currently investigating the cause of the fire however, early indications would suggest the fire started as a result of an electrical wiring fault," it said.

The prison service said no prisoners had to be transferred out of Portlaoise but the entire E division was put out of use. A spokesperson could not confirm who many prisoners were impacted our how many cells were put out of commission.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, expressed concern over a fire which broke out at the prison.

“Thankfully no one was injured and I commend the fire brigade and all those who responded to the fire in order to extinguish it. I am also reassured by the confirmation I have received from the IPS that all relevant safety systems worked as expected. Some non-residential areas of the Division have however been damaged.

"I understand power has been restored to many of the affected areas and I know the IPS are working to keep disruptions for prisoners to a minimum. I am of course concerned that the fire broke out in the first place. Early indications suggest the fire started as a result of an electrical wiring fault however I am expecting a full report on the incident from the Irish Prison Service in due course,” said the Minister.

It has been claimed that 160 prisoners were impacted. The prison has a capacity for 870 making it the biggest jail in the country. It shares a campus with Portlaoise Prison.

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