Mountjoy: Paul Furlong was held hostage in the prison's basement

A PRISONER taken captive in the basement of Mountjoy Prison last week has been granted temporary release on "compassionate grounds".

Paul Furlong, who was held hostage last weekend in an overcrowded cell of the jail in a protest over visiting rights, was released from prison last week, just two months into a year-long sentence.

Furlong, who was serving a 12-month jail term which he had only begun in May, was said to have been deeply traumatised by the attack.

The four other inmates who were involved in the hostage drama have now been separated and moved to various different prisons, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

The men have been the subject of internal prison disciplinary action and are also being investigated by gardaí in Mountjoy station in Dublin.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "We are not in a position to comment on individual prisoners.

"The matter is being investigated by the local prison governor and is also the subject of an investigation by the gardaí."

The dramatic incident took place in the B Basement area of Mountjoy Prison, where six prisoners had been crammed into a single cell, designed to house just two.

Prison sources said the case had chilling echoes of the brutal killing of Gary Douch, who was beaten to death by psychotic prisoner Stephen Egan in 2006.

Furlong was taken hostage at about 5.30pm last Saturday, when his five cellmates returned from their tea and strapped him to a chair.

Two of the men were armed with "shivs", improvised weapons with razor blades wedged into the handles of toothbrushes.

Inmates said the hostage-taking was in protest at the cancellation of a visit to one of the prisoners earlier that day over another disciplinary breach.

The men also said they were sick of overcrowding in their cell, before making bizarre demands for the anti-anxiety drug Valium and takeaway burgers.

The men left the cell following a tense three-hour standoff and negotiations with local prison management.

Furlong was taken to the nearby Mater hospital where he was treated for a cut to the forehead before being taken back into custody. Prison sources said he was given temporary release the following day and it is not now expected he will have to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Irish Prison Service management are bracing themselves for another major compensation claim arising from the terrifying incident. One prison officer said: "They have left themselves wide open to a massive claim by leaving people in those types of inhuman conditions. This man was terrorised and he has only been set free because they couldn't justify putting him back into the prison system after the ordeal he went through."