Prison service responds to possible 'criminal' wrongdoing claims sent to gardaí

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

prison

Midlands Prison Portlaoise

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) says it will fully engage with “external investigations” following the forwarding of extensive allegations of possible wrongdoing by prison staff by a TD to the Gardaí.

In a statement to the Leinster Express the service said that it is aware of Deputy Marc MacSharry’s comments at the meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts on Thursday, April 4.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he would forward a file to the Garda Commissioner, the Data Protection Commission and other relevant authorities.

The claims relate to issues arising from staff being followed. He also highlighted other issues.

Chairman of the Committee Deputy Sean Fleming advised he would provide a copy of the meeting transcript to An Garda Síochána due to the possibility of criminal actions.

The IPS responded in a statement.

“The Irish Prison Service agrees with the Committee Chairman, if Deputy MacSharry has any evidence or information in relation to the allegations he put forward at the Committee meeting, he should refer such evidence/information to An Garda Síochána.

“The Irish Prison Service is committed to high standards of professionalism. Where individual behaviours fall short of such standards there are a number of policies in place to fully investigate wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour. This includes a Protected Disclosure Policy which provides for independent assessment and investigation of allegations of wrongdoing and the Dignity at Work Policy which provides for independent investigation of allegations where appropriate matters are referred to An Garda Síochána.

“Where wrong-doing or inappropriate behaviour is determined to have occurred following independent investigation, the appropriate disciplinary action should be taken by the relevant manager in accordance with the appropriate Disciplinary Code.

“The IPS fully engages with external investigations relating to allegations of criminal wrongdoing by any member of staff,” it said.

The service claims that it supports staff.

“The IPS encourages all staff to speak up and to raise concerns about wrongdoing in the organisation and has in place a number of supports to assist staff through this process,” it said.

Since July 2018 a Protected Disclosures Manager has been in place so that workers can make disclosures internally.

“In addition, staff are encouraged to contact Transparency International Ireland (TII) which operates an independent confidential free phone service for anyone considering reporting a concern or making a protected disclosure,” it said.

The service said other help is available.

“The Employee Assistance Programme and the independent counselling service are available at all times to Irish Prison Service employees, including those who make a protected disclosure and those involved in the investigation of a protected disclosure.

“The staff support officer/employment assistance officer offers emotional support whilst the officer(s) is going through the disclosure process to include referral for counselling to Inspire Workplaces, if necessary,” said the statement.