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visitor ban Prisoners left devastated after in-person Christmas visits from family cancelled

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Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Dozens of inmates across the country were left devastated after in-person Christmas visits from family members were cancelled – due to heightened Covid 19 restrictions.

The ban on visits which came into effect on Christmas saw several dozens inmates, who had opted a physical visit over the option of two video visits, left heartbroken.

One inmate who did manage to avoid a cancelled visit was infamous wife killer Joe O’Reilly.

Nikki Pelley, with whom O’Reilly had an affair prior to murdering his wife Rachel Callaly, paid O’Reilly a visit at Wheatfield Prison on Wednesday.

“There were a relatively small number of inmates left disappointed,” a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told the Sunday World.

“In fairness, the vast majority of inmates had opted to receive two virtual visits over a physical visit.

“But it would be fair to say over a hundred inmates across the prison system had chosen to receive a physical visit during the period concerned December 24th to January 6th.

“Those inmates affected have since been again offered the option of the virtual visits.”

In a statement announcing the cancellation of the visits, the Irish Prison Service said: “It is with regret that we must announce that physical visits to all prisons will be suspended, with effect from midnight on Thursday 24th December 2020, following the Government announcement on the upgrading of all areas to Level 5 under the Plan for Living With Covid-19.

“As a result all physical visits booked for these prisons after the 24th December 2020 have now been cancelled and any family member with a physical visit scheduled after Thursday should not travel to any of our prisons but should contact the prison to rebook a video visit using the normal booking procedure.

“We regret that we must cancel these visits and understand that many families will be disappointed however, we will continue to make video visits available during this time and all prisoners have been granted an additional daily phone call.

“Please be assured that we will restore family visits as soon as possible in accordance with the Government and Public Health advice.”

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