Sean Quinn Junior transfered immediately to “one of the best prisons…”

I know we are well into the silly season (700+ written questions dumped on government ministers in the Dail last week by vacationing TDs as they sped out Dublin’s parliamentary doors), but I really don’t get why Sinn Fein are playing so close to Sean Quinn and family. Closer in fact that Quinn himself is prepared to go.

All I can think is that the heat must be on down in Fermanagh… Meanwhile in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole has been taking a long second look at what’s happened to Sean Junior:

LAST FRIDAY, Seán Quinn jnr was sent to Mountjoy Prison for three months for “outrageous” contempt of court in hiding nearly half a billion euro that belongs to the Irish people. But he’s not in Mountjoy. He spent one night in that nasty place. On Saturday, he was transferred to a very different institution on the same campus, the Training Unit, where, we are told, he is to serve all of the rest of his sentence. This decision, according to reports, was taken by “prison authorities”.

To most people, this is a minor detail. To a prisoner, it makes all the difference in the world. The short distance between Mountjoy and the Training Unit is a vast gulf in hope, dignity and self-respect. Mountjoy is a kip. The Training Unit is a decent enough place to be. Quinn being sent there means two things. One is that he remains an extremely privileged man. The other is that some other criminal, almost certainly one who has done less harm to Irish society, will pay for Seán Quinn’s privileges.

The thing to grasp about the Training Unit – demanding a leap of imagination by those of us on the outside – is there’s a really long waiting list to get into it. Once you pass into the parallel universe of incarceration, this is where you want to be. The unit is “one of the best prisons, if not the best, in the country” – according to inmates themselves, interviewed by the prisons inspectorate. Unlike Mountjoy, it is not infested with cockroaches and has not been officially deemed unfit for habitation. No one has to “slop out”.

Hmmmm… some prisoners are more equal than others?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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