A series of new security measures for escorting high-risk prisoners following the escape of a dangerous inmate from Tallaght hospital earlier this year have been announced.
A report on the incident has recommended that prison officers on high-risk escorts be issued with anti-stab vests, batons and incapacitant spray.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald told the Prison Officers' Association annual conference today that these recommendations are being implemented.
Prison officers claim the Government and Prison Service are not taking seriously enough attacks by inmates on their members, both in prisons and on escort duty.
Two prison officers were seriously injured in Mountjoy Prison last month and two others were injured in February when armed robber Derek Brockwell escaped from Tallaght hospital.
A report into that incident has recommended anti-stab vests, batons and incapacitant spray be issued to all officers on high-risk escorts and that ballistics vests also be introduced.
The Prison Service says 160 of these are needed.
Ms Fitzgerald told the prison officers today that the recommendations are being implemented as part of additional measures to ensure their safety at work.
But POA President Stephen Delaney told the minister that organised crime is still rife within the prison system.
Mr Delaney called for criminal gang leaders to be isolated for the safety of other inmates and prison officers.
He also criticised a plan by the Prison Service for a confidential helpline, which he says will allow gangs to set up other inmates as a decoy while other methods are used to get drugs inside.