Written answers

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Prisoners' Hardship Fund

9:00 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Question 597: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an allowance or payment was made to prisoners prior to Christmas 2009; if so, the amount and purpose of the allowance or payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1543/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that all prisoners are statutorily entitled to a daily gratuity. The current rate of gratuity payable is €2.35 per day. In accordance with the Prison Rules, 2007, additional gratuity may be paid to prisoners engaged in authorised structured activity.

In addition, the Irish Prison Service has operated a Prisoner's Hardship Fund since 2006, from which each institution is allocated a specific budget in December of each year. This scheme replaced the previous arrangement, whereby the Probation Service allocated annual grants to each institution each December. The purpose of the scheme is to provide a fund from which Governors can make modest payments to prisoners and their families in need of assistance. The award criteria to be applied and the amounts to be awarded to individual prisoners are at the discretion of the senior Governor in each institution.

The Hardship Fund itself is primarily financed through the profits from prisoner purchases in tuck shops operating across the Irish Prison Service estate. Funding is only sourced from the Prisons Vote in institutions where tuck shop profits are not sufficient. In December 2009, allocations were made from the Hardship Fund to all institutions. A figure for the total payments made to prisoners under the 2009 scheme is not yet available because returns have yet to be received from individual institutions. The information will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

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