Written answers

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Department of Justice and Equality

Prison Accommodation Standards

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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97. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality what it would cost to end the practice of slopping out within our prison system. [43113/15]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I can inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service Strategy Statement 2012/2015 identified the elimination of slopping out in the prison estate as a priority.

When the current Government assumed office in March of 2011 the practice of “slopping out” was still happening in Cork, Mountjoy, Limerick and Portlaoise prisons. As the Deputy will be aware, this Government has committed significant resources to the improvement of the prison estate. In keeping with our commitment to eliminate slopping out, as made in the Programme for Government, the focus of capital investment in prisons has been weighted towards achieving that goal.

All of the wings in Mountjoy Prison have been completely refurbished thereby facilitating the elimination of the practice of slopping out in the prison. A completely new replacement prison in Cork is almost complete and will be operational in February 2016.

I recently announced that the public consultation process on planning proposals for a major development at Limerick Prison has commenced. The proposed development will see the replacement of both the A & B Wings with a new modern cell block designed to meet international standards and will end the practice of slopping out in Limerick Prison. The development will also include a new accommodation block for female prisoners. This represents a very significant investment in the justice sector in Limerick and when completed will provide a very high standard of accommodation for both prisoners and staff in Limerick Prison. The enabling works for the redevelopment of Limerick Prison are scheduled to begin in 2016 with the main construction phase to start in early 2017. In addition, planning for a development at Portlaoise Prison that will bring slopping out to an end there is underway

When the new Cork prison opens next February, slopping out will have been ended across the entire of the prison estate except for the A wing at Limerick Prison and the E block at Portlaoise prison.

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that while numbers of prisoners housed on those wings will vary from day to day there is currently at a daily average of 50 prisoners in Limerick A wing and 34 in Portlaoise E block. To put those numbers in context, they represent less than 2% of the average daily numbers in custody.

The modernisation and improvements in prison conditions outlined above is tangible evidence of this Governments ongoing commitment to ending the practise of slopping out.

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