Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 19 October, 2006
Written Answers. - Prison Accommodation.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the Prison Service dismantled the Mountjoy holding cell in which a person (details supplied) was killed in August 2006; and his views on whether such actions, taken immediately prior to the visit of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, gives the impression that the Prison Service is attempting to undermine a proper and independent inquiry into these events by international human rights monitors. [33739/06]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: The Director General of the Irish Prison Service made the decision, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, that for operational reasons, the holding cells would be closed with immediate effect and  that they would no longer accommodate prisoners. It is his professional view that leaving the holding cells in use following such an incident would have been entirely inappropriate.
I can assure the Deputy that this decision was in no way an attempt at any sort of cover up and such a suggestion is at odds with the actions of my Department since this tragic incident. In this regard I refer to the appointment of Mr Michael Mellett to undertake an independent investigation into the events leading to the death of Mr Douch. He had concluded his examination of the area prior to any action being taken to convert the cells for alternative usage. The same position applies in relation to the Garda investigation into the incident. The Gardaí had indicated that they had no further requirement of the crime scene for their criminal investigation.
The Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment did visit Ireland recently and both I and my officials met with them during their visit. At no stage did the Committee make any reference to the closure of the cell in question nor did they seem to be under the impression that the Prison Service was trying to undermine their work in any way. Indeed they commented favourably on the level of cooperation they received during their visit.
The Committee have not indicated to my Department that they are carrying out any inquiry specific to the death of a prisoner although obviously they may refer to that and other matters in their general report.
Dáil Éireann 625 Written Answers. Prison Accommodation.