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Prison officers vote on industrial action is "an opening salvo"

There have been a number of attacks on officers this year.

Members of the POA on a picket in 2009.
Members of the POA on a picket in 2009.
Image: /Photocall Ireland

PRISON OFFICERS WILL begin a work to rule on 26 March as talks on safety stalled.

Over 90% of members of the Prison Officers’ Association voted to accept a ballot for industrial action today, saying that the move came because of “a series of unilateral decisions made by the Irish Prison Service” that have made prisons less safe for staff.

Last year, over 160 attacks on staff were recorded on staff.

This year, two prison officers were stabbed by a violent criminal and another two were injured in separate incidents at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise on Sunday.

Additionally, there have been another five attacks on prison officers in the last three weeks.

The Prison Officers’ Association says that they had a “positive engagement” with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald where there were commitments given to practical measures to ensure the safety of prison officers.

However, there was no concrete reolution on the issues and Jim Mitchell, Deputy General Secretary of the association says that staff will begin “withdrawing goodwill” as of 26 March.

He says that practical issues such as the removal of patrol dogs had made prisons less safe for officers, adding that if there is no solution, the action will escalate.

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“We only take it one step at a time and that starts with a rolling work to rule.

“That will escalate if there is not a solution.”

Read: Derek Brockwell: Search for ‘violent, hardened criminal’ continues, as Minister orders full report

Read: Two prison officers injured at Midlands Prison

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