Irish Prison Service officers on duty at the Midlands Prison Portlaoise
The Prison Officers' Association has directed all prison officers to adhere strictly to their duties in the prisons, in what is effectively a withdrawal of goodwill by staff in a row over when officers will be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Confirmation that officers are in dispute emerged in Dublin where a Circuit Court judge said he would start handing down indicative sentences which will be formally given at a later date, due to the ongoing prison officers' industrial action.
A number of sentences due to be dealt with at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday morning had to be adjourned after prison officers failed to arrive at court by 1pm.
The action has caused some issues in the prisons, including delays in escorting prisoners to and from jail for court appearances.
Eight sentences which were due to be heard in court five in the Courts of Criminal Justice were adjourned to later this month by Judge Martin Nolan.
“Tomorrow we are going to be facing the same thing,” Judge Nolan told the court. He said he would deal with all bail cases first and would then start handing down indicative sentences in cases where the Prison Service was not available.
“There'll be no Prison Service until God knows when,” Judge Nolan said. “I'll give an indicative sentence and postpone imposing the sentence for a few weeks.”
“It seems the situation is not going to get much better. It's likely to get worse.”
Judge Nolan said he had hoped prison officers would have arrived in the building by 12pm Tuesday but they were only “filtering into the building” at 1pm.
He adjourned court as he was due to be in court in Tallaght.
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