October 21 2010
A PRISON officer and his family are under 24-hour garda protection after a threat was issued in the wake of the Mountjoy riot.
Gardai have been detailed to protect the Dublin-based officer and his family after threats were made to him during the investigation into a disturbance involving 40 rioting prisoners.
The Herald also understands that the homes and families of several other prison officers are today under guard following threats by members of the mob involved in last Thursday’s riot.
Several inmates made the threats as investigations by gardai and the prison authorities continue into the disturbances.
Officers have been told: ” We will get you on the outside; we know where you live ; we know where your wife does her shopping.”
A senior officer said today: “One officer is under garda protection, as are his family and his home.”
The officer was threatened in the jail at the weekend as gardai from Mountjoy station were taking statements from the staff who were on duty last Thursday night.
Gardai aim to prosecute around 40 of those involved. They are matching photographs taken by staff of the prisoners after the situation was brought under control with the CCTV footage at the height of the riot.
The atmosphere remains very tense and a prison source revealed an attempt was made on Saturday evening to stir up another confrontation in the C1 and C2 area of the jail. However he said this ” fizzled out” before any serious confrontation arose.
A total of 74 prisoners were in the recreation yard last Thursday night when a riot developed. About 40 were actively involved as property was smashed, makeshift weapons used and three prison officers injured.
One of the officers was hit over the head with a snooker cue while another was smashed on the side of the head with a snooker ball.
A third officer, who was injured after a fall, and a prisoner who received minor head injuries were also hospitalised.
While seven of the ringleaders, including Limerick man Zachary Ryan Coughlan, were transferred to Portlaoise and the Midlands prisons, a hardcore of over 30 prisoners remain in Mountjoy.
The problem for staff and management is that they do not have a segregated unit in which they can be held in isolation from other inmates.