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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C

Intimidation and bullying: How Ireland's gangs affect the country's entire prison population

The country’s prison officers want the factions to be segregated.

THERE ARE MEMBERS of 12 gangs currently behind bars in Irish prisons, with 18 different factions in Mountjoy alone.

Officers believe that it’s only a matter of time before the escalating gang warfare that is happening on the streets finds its way into prisons.

The Prison Officers’ Association discussed the issue at its annual conference in Athlone this week.

“We have already seen one instance where a leading gang figure was attacked and nearly savaged to death and three of our staff had to go in and rescue him,” POA president Stephen Delaney said.

Without the actions of the prison officers he would certainly have been killed.

Delaney is calling for the factions to be segregated as they are intimidating the other prisoners:

“It is operationally very difficult – there is no doubt about that, but we feel there is capacity among the prison state to cater for such individuals. It is vital these people are targeted and isolated for the protection of all within the prison.

Whether it is drugs, bullying or intimidation – the environment of the prison is affected by these gangland figures.

“These figures are very intelligent and clever people and many times they get other people to do their work.”

Ghettoising gangs

Director General of Irish Prison Service Michael Donnellan added:

“We have 12 gangs in our prison service which is made up of over 70 people in seven prison environments.

International studies show it’s not right to ghettoise gangs. It’s better to deal with them individually … because ghettoising of gangs causes radicalisation, causes a breakdown in law and order and causes no-go areas.

“So the kind of policy we are pursuing is absolutely the right policy and we know who they are – we are right on top of them. We are liaising with the gardaí weekly.”

Speaking about the 18 factions in Mountjoy alone, Donnellan said:

“In prison for the last 50 years and for the next 50 years – there will always be sub-groups. People will always gather together in subgroups in prison and there is always factions from localities, from different ethnic classes and for all sorts of issues.

We are now housing those gangs in prison and they are going to be with us for many a long day. So that’s the reality of the situation.

Read: Violent prisoner getting his own garden also allowed personal, private access to gym and shop>

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