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Mountjoy Prison officers boycott RTE documentary over Rory’s Stories ‘drunk’ sketch

“We, the Mountjoy Branch is hereby issuing a directive to all members to not engage with the RTE documentary currently underway”

Philly McMahon© SPORTSFILE

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Angry prison officers at Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison are refusing to take any further part in a new RTE documentary being filmed at the prison over a skit by comedian Rory O’Connor that depicted an officer as ‘drunk’.

The comedian and social media star behind Rory’s Stories is currently working with Dublin GAA footballer Philly McMahon to coach a team of prisoners in Gaelic football as part of the new project.

The idea is to help them to get fit, while working with prisoners to help overcome their addiction and mental health issues.

The new show is due to air on RTE next spring and filming has been ongoing at the prison in recent months.

It had reportedly been received positively by prisoners and staff until one sketch fell foul of prison officers last week.

Philly McMahon© SPORTSFILE

Sources say that in the skit Rory had dressed as a prison officer, in a real uniform, and was filmed walked along a landing while whistling and swinging a set of keys.

“He opens a cell with a prisoner in it, which was prearranged, and they're filmed laughing and joking together,” one source said. “He sings a Christmas song then leaves and when the dinner guard asks for the keys back he says doesn’t know where they are, having left them in the cell with the prisoner.”

Another source claims that Rory was being filmed in the class office “pretending to be doing something for a lag on the PC, banging the keyboard and telling the lag, “sure, what do you expect me to do, I’m half-cut”.

Apparently these scene were being filmed for Rory’s own Tiktok account and were not part of the documentary but now the “POA (Prison Officers’ Association) want RTE banned from the prison”, the source claimed.

A Prison Officer Association (POA) letter circulated to members, seen by The Sunday World, states that “owing to recent events surrounding the RTE documentary film crew taking place, we, the Mountjoy Branch is hereby issuing a directive to all members to not engage with the RTE documentary currently underway.

"This includes all volunteering to take part in said documentary and the scheduled football match.”

Mountjoy Prison. Photo: Gerry Mooney

When asked for an official comment, the POA said: “The Prisoner Officers’ Association has sought a meeting with the Director General of the Irish Prison Service to discuss the documentary to which you refer.”

In an email sent to staff, also seen by The Sunday World, the Governor of Mountjoy Prison, Edward D Mullins, also addressed the issue while apologising for any offence caused by the skits.

It reads: “On Tuesday last I was informed by the chairman of the local branch of the POA that the RTE crew and Rory O'Connor filmed a number of sketches that some staff felt was offensive to prison staff and portrayed prison officers in an unprofessional manner.

“These sketches involved Rory and the prisoners participating in the programme and recorded for the purpose of showing to some of the prisoners’ (their) families.

“I immediately raised this issue with the executive producer of the programme and he provided me with the five sketches that were recorded.

“He assured me that no material which we were unhappy with would be used. I've instructed the producers to delete all material relating to this event and they have assured me they will do so.

“I raised the matter with Rory O'Connor and he assured me he never intended to offend or portray prison staff in a negative or unprofessional manner. He went on to say that during his time here in Mountjoy he found the staff to be the most courteous and professional at all times.

“The executive producer and his team have also apologised for any offence which this may have caused.”

The letter goes on to state: “It's disappointing that our colleagues will now miss out on the once in a lifetime opportunity to play football in Croke Park and the opportunity to explain to the general public the vital service we provide and the real challenges we as prison staff face on daily basis.

“It was also an opportunity to show the professional and caring nature of our staff. The production company are now making alternative arrangements for the finale of the programme.

“Over the last number of months we have tried to support our colleagues with the re-introduction of events such as the staff family days, the long-service awards and merit awards ceremony and the staff Christmas lunch.

“We will continue to find new ways of showing our appreciation to you our staff for the excellent job you do in difficult circumstances.

“As Governor, I take responsibility for the behaviour of everyone who enters the prison and I apologise if the events of Tuesday last offended anyone.”

The Irish Prison Service said they do not comment on what they described as “industrial relations matters”

However, a source said the sketch was not filmed as part of the documentary and was purely a gesture of thanks for the cooperation the team had received in the prison. The source said it was “disappointing that what would have been a very positive story, was now painted in a dim light.”

Neither RTE or Rory O’Connor wanted to comment.

The documentary is said to focus on the prison’s Progression Unit which accommodates around 150 prisoners in the former St Patrick’s Institute for young offenders building.

Speaking previous about the project Rory said: “It’ll be on RTE next spring and it’s all the morals that I carry - that not everyone is a bad egg and how people go off the wrong road.”

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