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'Irish prisons run smoothly on the goodwill of staff - that will end'

Voluntary duties are to be withdrawn from prison officers under industrial action voted on yesterday.

Prison officers outside Mountjoy Prison in 2007.
Prison officers outside Mountjoy Prison in 2007.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

IRISH PRISON OFFICERS will withdraw their participation in any of their voluntary duties under its work-to-rule action.

Yesterday, 93% of members of the Prison Officers’ Association voted to accept a ballot for industrial action.

It is their intention to carry out work-to-rule action on 26 March.

It says the decision was reached after “a series of unilateral decisions made by the Irish Prison Service” that have made prisons less safe for staff.

Recently there were two incidents in Tallaght Hospital and the Midlands Prison in which prison officers were injured.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Assistant General Secretary Gabriel Keaveny said that “there is a lot voluntary participation carried out by our members, that stuff I can imagine won’t be happening”.

He said on a daily basis prison officers carry out voluntary duties out of goodwill, but under the planned industrial action, that will not continue.

The prisons of Ireland run smoothly on the goodwill of staff . We anticipate there will be disruptions.

Keaveny said committees in each prison were being established to determine the best course of action, which will take the form of prison officers doing their job “as detailed”. 

We will have specific a plan in place and we will advise staff as to what they should and should not do.

The Irish Prison Service said in a statement:

The Irish Prison Service strongly urges the Prison Officers Association (POA) to continue to work within the well established industrial relations machinery to resolve any issues of dispute. The Irish Prison Service has comprehensive contingency plans in place to deal with all eventualities within our prisons and this includes industrial action.

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