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'He could have lost his eye': Prison officer injured in assault by inmate at Cloverhill

The Prison Officers Association has called for the provision of protective equipment like batons and pepper spray for staff.

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A PRISON OFFICER based at Cloverhill prison is recovering after a violent assault by an inmate who allegedly punched him and “gouged his eye”.

A source told TheJournal.ie that the incident occurred last Sunday when the officer was speaking with a prisoner in his cell.

The prisoner had been told he was not authorised to leave his cell for recreation that day because of an altercation with another inmate. The man allegedly became aggressive and punched the prison officer.

In the grapple that followed, the inmate “gouged” the prison officer’s eye, according to the source. Colleagues intervened and the officer attended hospital for treatment.

“He was badly shaken up and he had some cuts and bruises to his body and suffered an injury to his eye. He could have lost his eye, he’s lucky it wasn’t worse,” the source said. 

He’s off sick now but when he goes back he might have to work with that prisoner again if he’s still on that landing. There are no real repercussions when the prisoners assault staff. I’m surprised more officers aren’t seriously maimed.

According to Prison Service figures, there were 110 assaults by prisoners on staff last year.

Five prison officers at Midlands Prison were also injured recently in two separate assaults by inmates, including one incident in which the officer suffered a stab wound to the leg.

Deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers Association (POA) Jim Mitchell told TheJournal.ie that it is “rare that a couple of days go by without us getting a notification of an assault”.

“They understand that they have to deal with violent individuals, that’s part of the job, but they want to be able to come into work and make it home safe at the end of the day.”

He said staff do not feel that management in the Prison Service take these kinds of assaults “sufficiently seriously” and sanctions are rarely severe. 

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“When these incidents happen, there is support from staff from a welfare point of view, but the kind of support we need on top of that an extra year or two on top of the prisoner’s sentence because they did it,” he said.

He said the POA has also repeatedly called for the provision of protective equipment such as pepper spray and batons, as well as bodycams for all staff. 

The Prison Service did not respond to a request for comment on this incident. 

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