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JAILHOUSE SHOCK Control and restraint teams called in as inmates at Midlands Prison protest over Covid restrictions

The prisoners demanded that visits be re-instated and restrictions on photos being sent to them lifted, according to Sunday World sources

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Prison officers were faced with inmates angry at restrictions.

Prison officers were faced with inmates angry at restrictions.

Prison officers were faced with inmates angry at restrictions.

Inmates at one of Ireland's biggest prisons had to be forced off an exercise yard after a sudden protest sparked by continued coronavirus restrictions.

Officers in protective gear and shields were called into the stand-off at the Midlands Prison last weekend when several prisoners in D Wing refused to return to their cells.

They demanded that visits be re-instated and restrictions on photos being sent to them lifted, according to Sunday World sources.

Control and restraint teams deployed to herd the prisoners back to their cells were initially met with "fierce resistance".

The last protesting prisoner was removed from the yard by 9pm and tensions remained high until a small number of inmates were later transferred to other facilities around the country as a result of the violence.

In the statement, the Irish Prison Service confirmed "an incident occurred involving a number of prisoners in the Midlands Prison on the 13th June 2021. A C&R team was deployed and the incident was successfully resolved. No prisoners were injured."

They added plans to step down coronavirus restrictions will be published later this month and will follow from the Government's plan for opening wider society.

"Getting photographs through the prison mail system and visits are the main routes for smuggling drugs which have been cut off during Covid," said a source.

Well-behaved prisoners are often put under pressure to bring in contraband with their visitors even being approached to carry drugs inside, it was added.

The Sunday World recently revealed how drug-detection scanners installed last year found hundred of letters, photographs and clothing laced with potentially lethal narcotics.

Drugs such as fentanyl are smuggled into prisons after being sprayed on an item, as well as an even more potent variant known as W12. According to sources, one A4 page sprayed with fentanyl is worth as much as €1,000 inside a prison.

In one incident in the Midlands Prison, the drug was discovered on a child's drawings sent to an inmate.

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Measures to prevent the smuggling include passing only photocopies of letters to inmates.

In response to the emergence of the issue, measures were introduced by the IPS where inmates now receive photocopies of in-coming letters.

Sniffer dogs are effective in finding 'traditional' drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis, but are unable to detect the new generation of opioids.

The drug scanners will continue to be used when normal visiting starts again and can be used to detect if there are trace levels of drugs on a visitor's clothes.

In cases where someone is detected as having a positive result they will only be allowed to go ahead with a screened visit instead of face-to-face.

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