26-County Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has been described as “fascist” in a report issued as two more prisoners died in Mountjoy prison.
Michael Rogers, a 39-year-old prisoner, serving an 18-month sentence, was found hanging in his cell in the early hours of Thursday despite being “monitored” throughout the night.
Within 12 hours a 21-year-old man, serving a nine-month sentence for motoring offences, had also died in the prison, apparently from drug abuse.
Last month, a third prisoner was brutally beaten to death in crowded and almost medieval conditions in the notorious jail.
In his fourth annual report Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen, the inspector of prisons in the 26 Counties, accuses the Minister and his officials of having an attitude towards reform that is “frightening and fascist”.
His strongest criticism was of the Dublin government’s failure to provide for an independent prisons inspector, in spite of promises that this would be done.
“Now it emerges that the Minister has ‘other priorities’. This is outrageous and practically unbelievable,” he states.
The damning report, which covers the 12 months up to April 2006, was published last week by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
There have again been calls for Minister McDowell to urgently resign in the wake of the report.
The report states that the Six Counties has both an ombudsman for prisoners and an independent inspectorate, whereas the 26 Counties has neither. As a result, Dublin is in breach of the 19989 Good Friday Agreement.
“Surely, the Belfast Agreement should be honoured by the Irish Government,” the report asks.
“It is with great sadness I am writing this report. I think it is fair to ask, what are the Minister and his department hiding? Of what are they afraid?”