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Justice Minister Thanks Prison Staff While Visiting Midlands Prison

The prison service has been covid free throughout the pandemic.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is thanking the staff at both prisons in the midlands for their efforts in keeping facilities covid free. 

She made the comments during her first visit to the midlands prison earlier today. 

Prisoners both there and in Portlaoise prison have been allowed physical visits for the first time in three months since yesterday. 

To date, there's been no confirmed case of coronavirus linked to a prisoner or member of the Irish prison service. 

Statement in full:

“This morning I visited Midlands Prison and met with staff and management on site to thank them for all their work, particularly the work they have undertaken during Covid-19 to keep prisoners and staff safe.

“The fact that there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst the prison population in this country is testament to the hard work, dedication and attention to detail of those who manage and work in our Prison Service.

“I know that this has been an incredibly difficult time for prisoners and indeed for their families who have been unable to make physical visits to their loved ones since March. While video calls have been arranged between prisoners and their families in the interim, the work that has recently been undertaken in prisons across the State means that, from this week, physical visits to prisons can recommence on a carefully phased basis.

“Of course, the reintroduction of physical visits will be conducted in line with all public health guidance, with visitors temperature checked on arrival and provided with PPE to wear during visits, no physical contact allowed, sneeze screens in place in all visiting rooms, and a reduced number of visits facilitated each day. I am pleased that, alongside these arrangements, the innovation of video visits will continue and I recommend that families and loved ones of prisoners consult the website of the Irish Prison Service for further information on that facility.

“I also want to thank our prison population for their ongoing cooperation. They have worked closely with prison officers and management to keep the prison system Covid free, which has allowed us to begin to reintroduce physical visits at this time.

“As Minister for Justice, I also look forward to working with the Department of Health and the HSE on how best to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of those imprisoned.”

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