A FORMER inmate at Limerick Prison and Spike Island has made a complaint to gardai of numerous alleged sexual assaults by prison officers in both jails.
The former prisoner, who was jailed for a number of minor convictions at the time, said that he made a signed a detailed two-hour statement to gardai in Nenagh garda station this week, after also attending the offices of the Inspector of Prisons in Nenagh.
Gardai confirmed to the Limerick Leader that an investigation is underway into these allegations.
The man, who cannot be identified at this time, alleges that the abuse dates back to the 1990s when he was aged 18, and continued for a number of years at both jails.
He claims that he was sexually assaulted up to 10 times in Limerick, describing his sentence there as “torture”, and about seven times in Spike Island by officers whose names he has passed on to gardai.
Spike Island off the coast of Cork was closed in February 2004, and he was transferred to Limerick after this date.
He said the alleged assaults took place at the hands of a “number of prison officers”, and he believes that other victims will also be making their statements to gardai in due course.
“What was going on to some young fellas was unbelievable. I was threatened that if I made a complaint or talked to anyone about it I’d be found hanging in a cell and they’d make it look like a suicide. I told this to two different solicitors, so that they’re aware of it.
“There were two main officers involved, but others held you down or saw what was going on. In my mind, they’re just as bad as the people who did it. My head is destroyed from this, I keep thinking about it. I tried to kill myself twice. I can’t sleep, can’t eat..At least more people might come out and talk about it now,” he said.
He claims that he was beaten every day during his term in Limerick at the Mulgrave Street jail, further claiming that items such as knives, blades and small quantities of cannabis were planted in his cell, so that he could be refused privileges, such as seeing his family.
He said he was reluctant to make a statement for a long time as he felt “ashamed” and said he feels it’s harder for men to speak out about sexual assaults committed against them.
Now married with children, he said he “wants justice and to see the men [responsible] resign and apologise”.
“If priests are being brought up for this, I think prison officers should be brought up for the same crime. How can you be normal coming out of prison if this is happening to you? This is why some people are coming out and are committing more serious crimes,” he said.
He said that a number of other men who suffered this abuse suffered severe mental health issues requiring hospitalisation, and believes that other inmates took their own lives once they were released from jail as a result of the alleged abuse suffered.
In a statement to the Limerick Leader, Judge Michael Reilly, Inspector of Prisons said “if complaints are made to an Garda Síochána the investigation of such complaints is a matter solely for An Garda Síochána”.
Limerick solicitor John Devane said he was aware of the nature of the complaint, which is being dealt with in conjunction with another solicitor outside the Limerick area.
The Irish Prison Service said any complaint of this nature would be solely a matter for the gardai.