Fifty prisoners protest entitlement curtailments in Midlands Prison

Prisoners refused to leave exercise yard before matter was resolved without injury

A cell in Midlands Prison, Portlaoise. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A cell in Midlands Prison, Portlaoise. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A group of about 50 prisoners held a protest at the Midlands Prison on Friday when they refused to leave an exercise yard at the jail when required to.

Additional prison officers were drafted into the jail from Portlaoise Prison, which is located on the same campus, in the event the situation turned violent.

However, the matter was resolved peacefully and without an injury. The prisoners were protesting at what they saw as restrictions being introduced to their time in the yard and other facilities.

The Irish Prison Service has introduced a new regime in the jail against the backdrop of lower staffing levels.

Under the new “regime management plan” the availability of resources – including structured activities such as exercise time, education classes and workshops – in the jail will be set out in accordance with staffing levels available on each day.

Regime changes

The prisoners were protesting at what they saw as a curtailment of their entitlements. However, in a statement the Irish Prison Service said the new regime changes would become more stable and predictable in time.

“This plan is to direct resources to prisoners who wish to engage in constructive activities and create a safer working environment,” the Irish Prison Service said.

“The implementation of the regime management plan may lead to a phased unlock and a phased fall-in from activities. This plan will maintain safe systems of work and reduce risk in the workplace.

“The plan is heavily focused on ensuring the continued delivery of structured activities to prisoners and on encouraging prisoners to engage in structured activities by prioritising the assignment of staff to these services.”