Mountjoy Governor John Lonergan to retire: was he a success or a failure?

Congalltee

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 10, 2009
Messages
6,124
RTÉ News: John Lonergan to retire as Mountjoy Governor


The governor said he hopes he will be remembered for taking a genuine interest in prisoners and in having a fair and just regime.

Lonergan, has been hailed as someone who dealt with prisoners on a humane level, was always of the view that the punishment provided by prison was the loss of freedom and that the conditions of prisons were never intended to be a punishment of itself. However the chronic and persistent over-crowding, has meant that in reality the conditions in Mountjoy did amount to additional punishement. One which could, in my view, be recognised as being in breach of the Human Rights of the Prisoners (yes, they do have rights).

Mr Lonergan said Mountjoy never benefited from the extra prisoner accommodation provided elsewhere in the system. Criticising the current penal system, Mr Lonergan said that there is more 'warehousing' taking place in our prisons than rehabilitation.
It is hard to disagree with this analysis from someone who has been at the coalface for 42 years in prisons and 26 years in Mountjoy (far longer all but a handful of prisoners in the State).

Mr Lonergan said that while there were no drugs in prisons when he joined the service, today they are a scourge which have done huge damage to prisoners and their families. Drugs, he said, had undermined all the positive elements of prison life.
This must amount to a huge admission of failure. In addition, the idea that a prisoner who was drugs free on entering Mountjoy leaving as a junkie, is a shocking indictment of our whole penal process. The absolute least the prison system should do is take dangerous criminals off our streets and de-tox them while they are there. By reason of over-crowding and free availabilty of drugs, it has failed both, and for that reason, Mr Lonergan must, in my view, be counted as a failure.

I wish him well in his retirement.

Further information on Mountjoy
Summary of report of Judge Reilly. The intended capacity os 489, on occasion there has been over 600 prisoners.

In his inspection report on the notorious Dublin jail, Judge Michael Reilly says:
- Prisoners in cramped cells have to share toilet buckets in front of each other (‘slopping out’).
- They can’t empty the buckets overnight, which usually are not covered.
- Inmates often pour the contents of the buckets into bins on the landings.
- Liquid leaks from the bins onto the landing and elsewhere in the prison when being brought away.
- Some cells contain soiled mattresses.
- Cockroaches and mice are a problem in certain cells.


Read more: ?Inhumane? conditions in Mountjoy Prison | Irish Examiner
 


nonpartyboy

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
6,782
How the hell do all these lefties manage to get in to positions of power in the prison service ? You commit the crime you do the time, get over it !. Prison conditions in this country aren't half bad enough.
 

Christine Murray

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2008
Messages
635
Website
www.poethead.wordpress.com
There are still no toilet facilites in the cells ? How about the medical wing, giving that
some illness require clean hygenic jacks'.

I would not necessarily say that one should dump the problem on the Governor,
but is doesn't seem to have been a priority for either this Minister for Blasphemy
or indeed his predecessor.

Conditions in irish prisons made it into the European Committee on Torture
visiting committee, who last reported in 2006. FF/PD did not seem to prioritise
prison infrastructure (and the Thornton debacle made it to a C+AG enquiry!!)
 

flavirostris

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2007
Messages
24,570
I remember reading about how the drug-testing programme in prisions was actually pushing some inmates onto heroin from softer drugs. The reason? Cannabis stays present in the body much longer than heroin and you are therefore much more likely to fail a drugs test if you are a cannabis user which prompted many to switch to the harder drug.
There were extensive studies into this in the UK prisons but as far as I know Lonergan stuck with the drugs-testing programme which was arguably worsening the situation.
 

Christine Murray

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2008
Messages
635
Website
www.poethead.wordpress.com
Last edited:

Tomas Mor

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2010
Messages
10,351
I think Lonergan was a publicity seeking do gooder. Constantly poured out the well worn theme about poverty resulting in crime, his involvement in Kilmacud Crokes, coming from Bansha, and a darling of the media. Better governors were never heard of
 
B

birthday

I think Lonergan was a publicity seeking do gooder. Constantly poured out the well worn theme about poverty resulting in crime, his involvement in Kilmacud Crokes, coming from Bansha, and a darling of the media. Better governors were never heard of
It seems that he will be remembered for his highlighting 'the poverty results in crime' ( which is true) rather than highlighting the overcrowding and inhumane conditions in Mountjoy.
Should he have made more of an effort in his relations with the media at pointing out the appalling conditions in the prison. Should he have resigned or threatened to resign unless something was done?

On the drugs question it as an absolute disgrace that convicted prisoners are allowed consume illegal hard drugs in the prison. It is likely to be just a matter of time before some of our wonderfullegal friends successfully take a case against the state on behalf of a client who will claim that they 'became addicts while in the care of the state'. If (when) this happens, those who allowed this situation to prevail must be held to account.
 

donalmc

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
26
How the hell do all these lefties manage to get in to positions of power in the prison service ? You commit the crime you do the time, get over it !. Prison conditions in this country aren't half bad enough.
I can't be arsed finding the links but it is well known that the worse conditions are in prisons the greater is the level of recidivism.

I think Lonergan did a good job with the resources he was given. I'm not sure why he was on the radio so often, chat shows and the like.
 

feet first

Active member
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
171
Have to agree with Thomas Mor, how come the governor of mountjoy became a household name, unless he was a sefl publicist,
He consistenly took the criminals side in all disputes with his own staff.
He became not only the darling of the media, but also the darling of the criminal.
The public and staff will be glad to see the back of him,
 

stewiegriffin

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
839
On the drugs question it as an absolute disgrace that convicted prisoners are allowed consume illegal hard drugs in the prison. It is likely to be just a matter of time before some of our wonderfullegal friends successfully take a case against the state on behalf of a client who will claim that they 'became addicts while in the care of the state'. If (when) this happens, those who allowed this situation to prevail must be held to account.
We,society allowed it to prevail . We thought our victorian prisons were adequte for the 21st century . We were wrong . Now it is common knowledge that drugs are available in jail . This is because if they werent there would be murder and mayhem on a monthly basis .Its lazy to ignore this and dismiss people as 'lefties' . It is because of our culture of ignoring,nay supporting injustice that we had such chronic institutional child abuse in this country .
 
Last edited:

supermonkey

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2010
Messages
614
The problem is that we allow our prisoners to be run for the benefit of the warders. Irish warders earn twice as much as in the UK and there are twice as many of them per prisoner. The Prison Officers are thieves. Not surprising the job would only appeal to the very bottom of the proletariat.
 

Christine Murray

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2008
Messages
635
Website
www.poethead.wordpress.com
The problem is that we allow our prisoners to be run for the benefit of the warders. Irish warders earn twice as much as in the UK and there are twice as many of them per prisoner. The Prison Officers are thieves. Not surprising the job would only appeal to the very bottom of the proletariat.
I put links to the CPT report 2010, upon which there is a database linking
back to other reports based in visits by the european committee for the
prevention of torture.

There has been a simple but not radical improvement in conditions in some
Irish prisons since 2006. Thornton is not built, the buying process is subject to
query and it does appear that prison infrastructure was not a priority
for FF/PD.

but blasphemy was and now the funding of a referendum.. our prisons
are not good and we cannot always lay the blame at the doors of their
managers/governors. The issue is also political.
 

Tomas Mor

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2010
Messages
10,351
The problem is that we allow our prisoners to be run for the benefit of the warders. Irish warders earn twice as much as in the UK and there are twice as many of them per prisoner. The Prison Officers are thieves. Not surprising the job would only appeal to the very bottom of the proletariat.

Yes and I wonder how so much drugs gets into our prisons, same with mobile phones. Cant all be smuggled in in lovers clothes/crevices ? McDowell tried to take them on,but he probably failed
 

Christine Murray

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2008
Messages
635
Website
www.poethead.wordpress.com

straightalk

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2010
Messages
89
How the hell do all these lefties manage to get in to positions of power in the prison service ? You commit the crime you do the time, get over it !. Prison conditions in this country aren't half bad enough.
In all the times that I've listened to the former governor, I have never heard him profess his political ideological leaning. You can't reduce this debate on prisons/prisoners to a question of left or right. Father Peter McVerry speaks in a similar vein. I don't know whether he is left or right. Frankly, it doesn't matter. I'm all for having a robust criminal justice system, and incarceration is part of that. But the idea of slopping out in this day and age, to take one example, is an absolute scandal.
 

Old Mr Grouser

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 29, 2009
Messages
6,341
'no electoral value in maintaining prisons' says it all really, the only building/infrastructure worth investing in by sucessive governments in 22 years was that that paid electoral or financial dividends to parties (and their close personal buddies). Progressive thought key at prison - Lonergan - The Irish Times - Thu, May 13, 2010
Thanks for that posting. It's a very sensible article.

But there is a big need in this country for some human-warehouse, for the long-term storage of those that cannot be rehabilitated.

What do you do with someone from some of these criminal families where there's been generations of inbreeding and the whole tribe of them have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder? And if I've seen thousands of men like that; I suppose most of us have.

They should have decent food and decent conditions, but not in Dublin; up in Donegal, perhaps, where it would be cheaper.
 

irish_bob

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
7,528
The problem is that we allow our prisoners to be run for the benefit of the warders. Irish warders earn twice as much as in the UK and there are twice as many of them per prisoner. The Prison Officers are thieves. Not surprising the job would only appeal to the very bottom of the proletariat.
no different than our health and education sector so
 


New Threads

Most Replies

Top