West Cavan Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley has expressed his amazement at the revelation that Martin McDermott, the prisoner who escaped from Loughan House just over two weeks ago had previously escaped from the same institution in 2007.
“The Report, prepared by the Irish Prison Service is unbelievable. The fact that a person with 91 convictions, one of which involved a member of the Garda Siochana acting in the course of his duty was sent to a low security prison with less than half of his sentence served is amazing. That that same person, escaped from that same prison in 2007 is disgraceful,” he said.
Cllr Feeley lives a few miles from Loughan House, a low security prison just outside the West Cavan village of Blacklion. It has a capacity to hold approximately 160 prisoners.
“Minister Shatter has made very solemn statements about the ‘heinous nature’ of Mr McDermott’s crime and about the Irish Prison Service ‘wrong’ decision. I would remind him that he is not an opposition spokesperson now, he is the Minister responsible for the Criminal Justice System,” said the Fianna Fail councillor.
“The Irish Prison Service is under his remit. He must act decisively. He must set out a clear policy on the types of prisoner who are sent to Loughan House and other prisons and the terms that they will be kept under. Clearly a person who has got the chance to avail of the ‘open-prison’ regime and flouts it should never get back.”
Concluding, Councillor Feeley stated that as a local resident and as a public representative he believed that people living near open prisons deserve the assurance that those sent there are of carefully evaluated.
“Whilst Minister Shatter was travelling around Australia, a Garda killer was at large, that is a serious matter. If the Minister cannot deal with the repercussion of this situation he is not capable of holding office,” he said.