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Irish Examiner: Prison boss denies governor was undermined

27th April 2010

Writing in today's Irish Examiner, Cormac O'Keeffe reports on Governor McMahon's resignation from the Dóchas Centre women's prison. The article details how Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Brian Purcell, has denied her claims that her job had been made "completely impossible" by the Prison Service.

"Kathleen McMahon handed in her resignation as governor of Dóchas women’s prison claiming there had been "serious undermining" of her position. Ms McMahon [...] complained of a lack of consultation and respect by Prison Service management.

In her letter to Mr Purcell she cited "dreadful" overcrowding through the introduction of bunk beds, which has seen up to 137 women crammed into a centre designed for 85 [...] She said the progressive rehabilitative regime was being eaten away by overcrowding.

The article details Brian OPurcell's rejection of claims that the Prison Service had undermined her, including her claims that a large percentage should not be in prison: He said 25% were serving time for murder or manslaughter offences and 20% were imprisoned for supplying drugs. A further 25% were serving sentences over 12 months for offences such as robbery.

The article also quotes Liam Herrick of the Irish Penal Reform Trust: "This unprecedented public gesture by a prison governor sounds a clear alarm call for government that even our most progressive prison can no longer achieve its stated purpose."