Prison gang hold warders hostage

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The Independent Online
Six prisoners armed with blood-filled syringes and metal bars were holding four warders hostage in Dublin's Mountjoy jail last night. They were barricaded into the recreation room of the segregation unit, which houses the most dangerous inmates.

Five warders were seized on Saturday evening as they came on duty in the unit. One was later released with a message for the governor, John Lonergan, requesting that a Department of Justice official be brought to the prison. When the official arrived, negotiations began through a window.

One of the prisoners is Paul Ward, from Crumlin, in Dublin. He is proclaiming his innocence of charges arising from the murder of the crime journalist Veronica Guerin and from the alleged possession of drugs.

Three others, Eddie Ferncombe, Joseph Cooper and Warren Dumbrell, are protesting against living conditions and alleged ill treatment in various Irish prisons. The two other prisoners are also complaining over conditions, but declined to be named.

Food was provided yesterday for both officers and prisoners in the unit. Relatives of the prisoners involved were also brought into the jail.

Mountjoy dates from the 1840s and is used mainly for remand prisoners. Conditions have have caused increasing concern. The jail has extensive drug problems, severe overcrowding and many suicides.