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“Drink and Drug Testing must proceed”

18 August, 2011 - by Seán Lynch

Sinn Féin Justice Committee Member, Sean Lynch MLA (Fermanagh/South Tyrone) has called on the Minister to bring forward whatever measures are required to ensure that the proposals for random drug and drink testing for Prison Officers are implemented without delay.

Sean Lynch said:

“The dead hand of the Prison Officers Association (POA) is once more evident on this decision by the Prison Service to shelve plans to carry out drink and drug tests on prison officers. This is another retrograde step in efforts to reform the Prisoner service.

“Despite the well-known fact that there is a high incidence of alcohol dependency within the prison service, management feel it appropriate not to proceed with this programme. The POA have run social clubs within the Prisons for decades and in fact operated an illegal drinking club in Magilligan Prison for decades.

“As with every progressive proposal brought forward to bring the Prison Service up to an acceptable human rights level it is obvious that the Management has once more buckled under demands and threats from the POA.

“The Prison Service has a duty of care to those individuals being held in its custody and must take every measure appropriate to ensure that they are not put in danger because individual Prison Officers may be under the influence of Drugs or Alcohol.

“The Prison Service is in need of a root and branch reorganisation and it is incumbent on the Minister to ensure that everything needed to meet the duty of care that it has to prisoners is in place. Prison Officers are there to abide by that duty of care and to be free from any influence, whether drink or drugs that would impair their ability to carry out their duty in any way.

“I will be taking this issue up with the Minister to demand that the dead hand of the POA is no longer allowed to influence conditions in our prisons.” CRÍOCH

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