There are hopes that the looming industrial dispute in the prison service may be averted following an intervention by the National Oversight Group for the Haddington Road Agreement.

93% of prison officers have voted to commence a work to rule from 26 March over concerns about unilateral decisions made by the Irish Prison Service which they claim impact on staff safety. 

In light of the threatened dispute, the National Oversight Group of the Haddington Road Agreement has issued a statement confirming that it has met separately with prison management and staff representatives.   

It says both management and unions affirmed their commitment to the agreement they reached in the Haddington Road Agreement to secure savings of €12.42 million, and to work together to deliver measures which will secure those savings. 

The Oversight Group says that if the parties cannot reach agreement, they will avail of the process for securing a final and binding outcome established in the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements - including the option of assistance from the Labour Court acting on an ad hoc capacity.

The Oversight Body concludes by saying it is confident that the State industrial bodies will be available to assist the parties in their discussion on securing the agreed savings, and requests all parties to maintain industrial peace and normal working until all procedures have been exhausted.

The General Secretary of the Prison Officers' Association John Clinton confirmed that correspondence had been received from the Haddington Road Oversight Group.

He said the POA would consider that correspondence, and if an approach is made to them by the Labour Relations Commission, they will bring that to the union's executive and take it from there.