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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C

The Irish Prison Service needs more women and ethnic minorities to become prison officers was given access to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin yesterday afternoon. / YouTube

THE IRISH PRISON service is in dire need of more women and ethnic minorities to work as prison officers across the country.

Right now, there are just over 3,000 people working in the system – most of them are white men – something which prison bosses want to see change in the coming months.

Retirements and resignations are behind the shortfall in staffing levels but it is hoped that the new drive for recruits will see the service’s numbers bolstered to the optimum number of 3,150. was given access to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin on Friday afternoon to experience the daily challenges that await staff working there.

Although the Irish Prison Service finds itself short staffed, they say another need they have to fill is to achieve a more diverse workforce to better reflect the population of the prisons. Current estimates are that just one in ten prison officers are women and only a small percentage of the officers are from a different country.

Communications officer for the IPS, Ciaron McCauley, explained:

We’re hoping to get a lot more people signing up to become prison officers in the next two weeks or so. There’s a misconception about this job that it’s just someone closing a door after a prisoner but that is wrong. There is so much more to it.

“We want the best talent we can get to join the IPS. We would love to see more ethnic minorities putting themselves forward because we need them. The prison population is completely different to what it was about 30 years ago.”

Sue Foley is one of the prison officers working in Mountjoy. She holds the position of Assistant Chief Officer (ACO).

Mountjoy 2 Nicky Ryan / Inside Mountjoy Prison. Nicky Ryan / /

“Female prison officers do the exact same job as men. The only thing we can’t do is be present when there are searches ongoing. It’s the same for the men in female prisons.

“I do really like my job. There are challenges of course but if you have the right set of skills, then you can really do well. There is space for promotion.

“I think if you are resilient and have good communication skills, then this could be the job for you. There’s a great community here and we do all we can to look out for each other.”

The Irish Prison Service expects to appoint up to 120 recruit prison officers per year over the next three years.

Recruit prison officer is the entry level to the service. It takes three years of service and the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care (HCCC) before the new Recruit Prison Officer is appointed as an established prison officer.

Trainees start on €28,000 per year but can upwards of €50,000 per year by securing promotion.

The jobs announcement and application form can be found on

Video by Nicky Ryan

Read: Solicitor who brought small amount of cocaine into Mountjoy Prison given option to avoid conviction >

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