425. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a clear pathway for internal disciplinary issues regarding officers, personnel and management employed in the Irish Prison Service, including being put on notice for transfer to another prison facility here, gross negligence accusations or health and safety issues; the pathway available to seek an independent impartial investigation and fair hearing for such issues; the protective controls in place to protect persons facing such disciplinary issues while an investigative process is underway; and the due process available to ensure there is no victimisation or penalisation for an ongoing case. [54373/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the procedures for dealing with disciplinary issues relating to prison grades are set out in S.I. No.289/1996 Prison (Disciplinary Code for Officers) Rules, 1996 as amended by S.I. No.438/2009 Prison (Disciplinary Code for Officers) (Amendment) Rules 2009.
This Statutory Instrument provides for an oral hearing to be held by the Governor where an alleged breach of discipline occurs and that an officer has a right to appeal.
Transfers within the Irish Prison Service are based on the exigencies of the service and, in general, vacancies are filled in each location in line with the agreed transfer protocol on the basis of seniority in the grade. However, there are occasions where the transfer of an officer to another prison or location is required for personal, medical or health and safety reasons, or to ensure that an investigation, disciplinary or dignity at work processes can be addressed expeditiously and fairly.
The Irish Prison Service policies in relation to Dignity at Work, Protected Disclosures and the Grievance Process are accessible to all employees of the Irish Prison Service. The Irish Prison Service is committed to the provision of staff support services to all employees including the Employee Assistance Service and an Independent Counselling Service, which is available to all staff and is free of charge. It is a 24/7 freephone helpline, with access to up to 6 counselling sessions for support covering a wide range of issues.
Additionally, the Irish Prison Service is a member of the Integrity at Work programme (IAW), which is an initiative of Transparency International Ireland aimed at promoting a safer working environment for people who speak up about wrongdoing.