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"There's going to be riots" when St Patrick's inmates move to new prison

A senior prison officer has warned that rival gangs will battle for dominance when the young offenders are moved to an adult prison.

St Patrick's Institution in Dublin
St Patrick's Institution in Dublin
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

THERE WILL BE ‘riots’ when young criminal inmates are moved from St Patrick’s Institution to an adult prison in Dublin as rival factions battle for dominance, a senior prison officer has warned.

The inmates aged between 17 and 21 will be housed in Wheatfield prison in Dublin with senior members of gangs they are affiliated to which will lead to major tensions, the officer said.

He warned that mixing junior and senior members of gangs from places like Finglas, Crumlin and Limerick will cause chaos in an already overstretched prison system.

“This hasn’t been fully thought through,” he told TheJournal.ie. “All of the issues that already exist in Pat’s will be magnified ten times over when they [inmates] are put in with other gang members.

St Pat’s is the most violent prison in the country. Moving all the [inmates] will make for a hothouse – there’s no question. There will be riots in Wheatfield when they move in.

The officer, who works in St Patrick’s and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all of the young offenders already belong to gangs in the medium-security prison. “They all have to prove themselves,” he said.

Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan visited Wheatfield Prison on Friday to see where the 17-year-old inmates will be held amid concerns over whether the west Dublin prison has the space or the staff to deal with the extra prisoners.

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Justice Minister Alan Shatter has indicated that the youngest offenders will be held in a separate unit to the rest of the adult prison population. However it is not yet clear how long the 17-year-old criminals will be held in the jail before being moved to a special detention unit in Oberstown which is supposed to open next year.

Problems have persisted at St Patrick’s Institution, despite attempts to change the culture at the facility. The head of the Irish Prison Service said that the safety and security of offenders cannot be guaranteed during the announcement during the week that St Patrick’s is to close down.

Read: “The culture has not changed” – St Patrick’s Institution finally gets closed down >

Read: Moving inmates from St Pat’s to adult prison “won’t make one iota of difference” >

Read: Damning report into St Patrick’s finds forced stripping, excessive force and intimidation >

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