Covid in jails: Judge asks Prison Service rep to come to court after prisoner cannot attend trial amid ongoing outbreaks

A representative of the Prison Service has been requested to attend the Central Criminal Court to clarify the ongoing disruption to criminal cases due to Covid outbreaks in the prisons network after a prisoner could not be produced for trial today.

his afternoon at the Central Criminal Court, a senior counsel said his client could not be produced by the Irish Prison Service for trial.

Counsel said his client could also not be produced by video-link and told the court that he was requesting a senior representative from the Prison Service to attend and give evidence as to why his client could not be produced.

The barrister said it was his understanding that Cloverhill Prison, where his client has been remanded to, had been locked down due to Covid testing.

Counsel applied to the court to request a Prison Service representative to attend in person, adding that “communications through the media and other informal means” were “not sufficient” for his client, whom he said is entitled to a trial.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the court would invite a senior Prison Service member to attend the court and clarify the situation regarding lockdowns and the production of prisoners to the court.

Mr Justice McDermott said that the court registrar would convey the request to the Irish Prison Service before adjourning the matter until tomorrow.

Covid-19 in the prisons network is causing ongoing disruption to criminal cases, with one prison officer telling a high court judge yesterday that there have been “outbreaks in every prison”.

Cloverhill in Dublin and Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, the country’s biggest jail, are both badly affected, with mass Covid testing under way.

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