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Rossport Five men refused entry to jail

Lorna Siggins, The Irish Times

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

LORNA SIGGINS Western Correspondent

THE IRISH Prison Service has apologised to three members of the Rossport Five who were refused entry to Castlerea Prison, Co Roscommon, yesterday to visit Erris fisherman Pat O’Donnell.

An Irish Prison Service spokeswoman said it was “unfortunate” that access had been refused at the last minute yesterday morning.

An invitation would be re-issued to the three men – Willie Corduff, Vincent McGrath and Micheál Ó Seighin – the spokeswoman said.

The three had been granted permission from the Castlerea Prison governor to visit the fisherman yesterday morning.

Mr O’Donnell is serving a seven-month jail sentence for threatening behaviour towards a garda at a Corrib gas protest rally.

Mr Corduff said that he and Mr McGrath and Mr Ó Seighin had been through security screening, when they were then asked to leave. “Everyone was very welcoming, but then an officer asked which one of us had been on remand at Cloverhill Prison, and we said we all had,” Mr Corduff said. “We were then told that remand prisoners and ex-prisoners couldn’t visit prisoners, and before we had time to explain he escorted us out,” Mr Corduff said.

The three men were among a group of five who served 94 days in Cloverhill Prison in 2005 for contempt of a court. Padraic Ferry, solicitor for the three men, said yesterday it was incorrect to describe the three as on remand, and none of them had a criminal record as there had been no conviction. An Irish Prison Service spokeswoman said the officer at Castlerea was “not aware that the three men had no convictions”.