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Mr Michael Donnellan, Director General of the Prison Service briefed the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on the procedures for transferring prisoners to low security prisons at its meeting today, 29th March.

Chairman of the Committee, Deputy David Stanton said: “The recent incident in which a prisoner escaped from the low security Loughan House prison in Cavan earlier this month highlighted the issue of transferring prisoners to these facilities.

“Our meeting today was an opportunity for Members of the Committee to outline any concerns or issues they may have on the issue of prisoner transfers. It provided a valuable contribution to our understanding of the issue.

“It also gave us a chance to discuss the Prison Service’s overall policy and procedures for transferring prisoners and examine the decision-making process behind prison transfers.

“The Committee acknowledges the Director General’s acceptance that, in this particular case, mistakes were made. It was a positive, frank and constructive discussion and gave us a valuable insight into the Prison Service’s work, in particular prisoner transfers.

“The Committee recognises the difficult and sometimes dangerous work undertaken by the staff of the prison service and does not wish this incident to take from the service provided by prison staff.

“I would like to thank representatives from the Prison Service for attending today’s committee meeting and hope that this regrettable incident will not overshadow the exceptional work done by the Prison Service.

“It is important that members of the public and victims of crime are assured that society is protected from those involved in criminal behaviour and that prison acts as a deterrent to those involved in crime.

“It is also important to put on record that members of the Oireachtas fully support the work of the Prison Service and the Garda Síochána in the difficult and sometimes dangerous work that they undertake on behalf of the State.”