Fire at Midlands Prison led to prisoner evacuation

Fianna Fáil TD to put down a Dáil question to justice minister about the issue

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

The Midlands Prison PortlaisePicture:  Finbarr O'Rourke

Visit to prisioner at The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise at the centre of appeal.

The Minister for Justice is to be asked about a fire at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise which a Fianna Fáil TD claims led to the evacuation of up to 160 prisoners.

Laois County Fire Rescue Service attended an incident in the Midlands Prison this morning (Tuesday, March 12) at 6.27 am.

Units from Portlaoise and Stradbally responded to the incident at the country's biggest jail.

A prison source claimed the incident has given rise to concerns over fire safety due to issues that may have been identified with the fire alert systems.

As a result, it is claimed that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) may face difficulties accommodating a substantial number of prisoners.

The Laois Fire and Rescue Service said issues arising from the fire are a matter for the Irish Prison Service. Regular meetings and training take place with IPS management and staff said the Laois Fire Service.

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry is to put down a Dáil question to the Minister for Justice and Laois TD Charlie Flanagan about the incident.

"In light of a serious fire at the Midlands Prison last night / this morning March 11/12 and the evacuation today of 160 prisoners in E Wing, can the minister confirm that this Fire was due to the failure of the safety system?

"Can he further confirm how many requests for maintenance were lodged by staff over the last three years, how many were acted upon, when was maintenance last carried out in the fire safety systems and if he will make a statement on the matter," said the question. 

Read also: READ STATEMENTS FROM IRISH PRISON SERVICE AND MINISTER FOR JUSTICE CHARLIE FLANAGAN

Daily prison accommodation figures from the IPS show that there were 858 prisoners in the prison on Tuesday. It has a capacity for 870 inmates.