The Prison Officers’ Association has hit out at the Taoiseach for publicly condemning a situation whereby a female solicitor was forced to remove her bra to gain entry to Cloverhill Prison.
New documents, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, show the Prison Officers’ Association wrote to Micheál Martin’s office 10 days after the Taoiseach addressed the solicitor’s ordeal in the Dáil chamber.
The Taoiseach was reacting to a story in the Irish Examiner which detailed a complaint from a female solicitor who said she was forced to remove her bra in order to attend an urgent meeting with her client in Cloverhill Prison, Dublin.
The woman said she was humiliated and traumatised by the incident which took place in front of four male guards and a male senior counsel.
There was widespread criticism of the prison’s handling of the situation at the time, and Mr Martin described it as “quite shocking” and “unacceptable“.
“It is simply not good enough in any shape or form, and needs to be addressed,” he said.
In an email to the Taoiseach, the association representing prison officers was highly critical of Mr Martin’s comments, saying “no wrongdoing was established, no disciplinary action against prison staff was recommended, and the staff in question were vindicated”.
“It would have been more in keeping with the principles of fairness and natural justice had you established the full facts of this alleged incident prior to taking such a high-profile view,” the email said.
I trust that either you or the Minister or Justice will correct the Dáil record, should facts emerge consequent to your enquires.”
In his reply to the association, Mr Martin said that once a review of the incident was received, “an assessment will be conducted” on further actions required.
Despite repeated requests, a review of the incident has not been made public.
Documents also reveal that just two TDs wrote to the Minister of Justice and the Prison Service regarding the incident — Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers.
Ms McDonald wrote to the Prison Service outlining her concerns, adding that had the incident not been publicised in the Irish Examiner, “no review of prison practices would have been established”.