There are restrictions on the production of prisoners from four a number of Irish prisons due to Covid-19 outbreaks, the Leader can confirm.
At a sitting of Longford District Court on Tuesday, it was revealed by Judge Seamus Hughes that a number of prisoners would not be produced from Castlerea, Portlaoise, Wheatfield and Mountjoy prisons.
Judge Hughes noted the outbreaks and adjourned a number of cases, including the case of one man who was due to be served the book of evidence on Tuesday. His case has been put back to January 19.
The Irish Prison Service confirmed on Monday that two prisoners in Portlaoise and one prisoner in the Progression Unit in Mountjoy Prison have tested positive for the virus, adding that the prisoners were not recently committed and therefore contracted the virus from within the prison.
Outbreak Control Teams (OCT) have now been established in Portlaoise and Mountjoy to agree and oversee the appropriate actions to be taken to mitigate against further possible spread of the disease within those prisons.
The Service is working closely with Public Health in the HSE with regard to the management of the current outbreaks including making arrangements for the mass testing of prisoners and staff in both locations. Arrangements are being made for the mass testing of prisoners and staff in Portlaoise Prison on Sunday and Monday, and in Mountjoy on Wednesday and Thursday next week with a further test to be carried out 7 days later.
To help prevent the spread of infection a more restricted regime has been introduced in both prisons which may impact on access to video visits and phone calls in the short term for prisoners in precautionary isolation however we are working to ensure that we can continue to facilitate family contact as far as possible.
Earlier this month, following the confirmation of a positive cases among staff in Wheatfield Prison, mass testing of staff and prisoners was carried out and additional positive cases were detected among staff and five prisoners.
The Irish Prison Service and Wheatfield Prison management have implemented a comprehensive contingency plan to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the wider prison population.
The Irish Prison Service also confirmed that five prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 in Loughan House Open Centre in recent weeks. Four of the five prisoners who tested positive were on Temporary Release and were tested and quarantined on their return to Loughan House. There are no reported positive cases among staff to date.