Minister called on to intervene in cross-party request to visit Portlaoise Prison

Independent TD Clare Daly claims authorities in Portlaoise Prison have ignored TDs and failed to answer letters

Clare Daly: Independent TD said a delegation of TDs had requested permission to visit Portlaoise. She said they had been waiting for a reply for months. Photograph: Fergal Phillips.

Clare Daly: Independent TD said a delegation of TDs had requested permission to visit Portlaoise. She said they had been waiting for a reply for months. Photograph: Fergal Phillips.

 

Authorities in Portlaoise Prison have ignored requests from a delegation of TDs to visit the facility, refusing to answer letters and leaving them to wait for months for a reply, the Dáil has heard.

Independent TD Clare Daly called on Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to intervene with the Irish Prison Service on behalf of the cross-party delegation and said there was no difficulty in being given permission to visit Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland.

She was speaking following the publication of the report of the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly.

Referring to what was happening in Portlaoise, Ms Daly said prisoners in the E block had to take protest action to highlight the squalid Victorian prison conditions there.

“The failure of management to provide adequate medical cover or hygienic facilities has had a serious impact on prisoners’ health,” she said. “The practice of slopping out continues.

“Cells are damp and leaking beyond repair. They are unventilated and freezing cold during the winter.”

Exposed electrical wires

Ms Daly said a delegation of TDs had requested permission to visit Portlaoise. She said they had been waiting for a reply for months, which she described as “astounding”.

“We regularly seek permission to visit Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland. We are granted that permission with no problem, but here in the South of Ireland when we ask to go and look at the conditions in Portlaoise prison, our letters are not answered.

“We are told the request is being considered but we are left waiting for months. This is not good enough.”

She also highlighted the case of a Donegal man Gerard McManus who had requested a transfer to Portlaoise from Maghaberry Prison for family reasons. “More than a year ago the Irish Prison Service informed me it was dealing with his transfer and yet it has not dealt with it.”