Lessons to be learned from Mountjoy murder – Attorney General

The justice minister said lessons would be learned from the killing of a prisoner who died after being severely beaten at Mountjoy prison in Dublin.

Ellen McEntee has stated that while prisoner killings are “very rare”, the tragic death of Robert O’Connor is unacceptable to the prison service.

Gardai is now treating the investigation as murder.

A 34-year-old man died at Mater hospital on Wednesday morning, days after he was attacked by a group of men in his cell.


Attorney General Helen McEntee (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms McEntee said it was “a tragic situation” and offered her condolences to Mr O’Connor’s family.

“I would like to emphasize that this is a very rare incident in our prisons, the first time this has happened in eight years,” Ms McEntee added.

“At the same time, any kind of death of this kind is simply not acceptable in the prison service.

“Prisons have very strict rules, very strict protocols to keep people safe.

“But obviously it was upgraded to a murder investigation.

“It is important that An Garda Siochana be able to conduct this investigation in order to establish exactly what happened.

“I think that with any incident of this kind and this severity, we need to make sure that all the lessons are learned and that we can learn everything from it to ensure that this does not happen again.

As tragic as it may be, we must make sure that if there are any changes or new mechanisms, then weHelen McEntee

“Obviously, no situation is without risk, but every effort is made in our prisons and every protocol is in place in our prisons to ensure that this does not happen.

“I think it’s a very, very sad day for everyone that this happened.”

Ms McEntee said that the Inspector of Prisons, as well as the Irish Prison Service, would look into it.

“Obviously, there will be an investigation. On top of that, there will be a criminal investigation and, as I said, there will always be something we can learn from a situation like this.

“As tragic as it is, we need to make sure that if there are changes or new mechanisms, then we will do it.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said Mr O’Connor’s murder was the subject of a “very thorough investigation”.

“I have to say that the investigation is ongoing, we are obviously collecting all the evidence in terms of what the prison authorities can tell us, as well as physical evidence through the security cameras of the scene itself,” Mr. Harris said on Thursday.

“This is the subject of a very thorough investigation, obviously a murder investigation, and we will report this to the DPP in due course, but we are also very aware of our responsibility in terms of the system, the Irish Prison Service and prison security. prisons.


Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there would be a thorough investigation into the murder of prisoner Robert O’Connor.

“Obviously, if there are immediate things that we can see in the course of the investigation, we need to bring them to their attention, we will do it.

“On a daily basis there is an exchange of intelligence between us and the Irish Prison Service, and it’s all about crime prevention, security and good prison management.”

He said the Guard is “very aware” of tensions outside of prisons, especially between gangs, and how it can affect what happens inside prisons.

“We are in daily contact with the prison authorities, that is, about this exchange of information about these kinds of tensions and ongoing infighting that can take place between various criminal gangs outside the prison, and how they can be reflected in the prison. ‘ added Mr Harris.

“So it’s a constant fundamental piece of intelligence that we’ll be sharing.”

Meanwhile, the former warden of Mountjoy said there is a feeling that the system breaks down when a prisoner dies in an attack.

John Lonergan, who has been Mountjoy’s governor for over two decades, said that a prisoner’s death could lower morale and upset staff and prisoners.

Mr Lonergan told RTE Morning Ireland that the “primary purpose” of the prison service and the top priority of the prison service is the safe custody of prisoners.

More than 400 prisoners are under protection in Irish prisons, Mr. Lonergan said, about one-tenth of the prison population.

We have failed to meet our number one priority, the safety of the prisoners.John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy

“I personally have always felt that this is a failure of Mountjoy and the system, including myself, when someone dies, especially dies, because this is the limit that can happen.

“So in terms of management and staff, this is a depressing development that certainly lowers morale and certainly upsets people because, again, culture is about keeping people safe.

“When that happens, there is a sense of failure.

“We failed to meet our number one priority, which is prisoner safety, but unfortunately the reality is that you can never guarantee that this will never happen again in a prison.”

He said that prisoners should expect their safety in prison to be guaranteed.

“The reality is, of course, that there is always a risk factor, and unfortunately in rare cases it actually materializes, and people get seriously injured, and often a very small number of cases die,” he added.

He also said the attacks are “frequent”.

He said the feud between gangsters and drugs was the biggest contributing factor to the rise in prison violence.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a massive increase in violence in prisons, despite huge resources being devoted to security and prevention,” Mr. Lonergan added.

“There is intelligence that would identify prisoners at risk, as well as prisoner movements and prison conditions.”