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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

End of an era: slopping out to officially end in Mountjoy this month

Twelve per cent of prisoners are currently forced to ‘slop out’ but the Prison Service says things are gradually changing.

Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

THE ANTIQUATED PRACTICE of slopping out is to finally end in one of Ireland’s oldest prisons.

Prisoners in Mountjoy in Dublin will no longer be forced to use buckets or commodes as toilets in their cells when the prison’s D wing closes for refurbishment in the coming weeks.

Ireland’s prisons have been criticised as inhumane and degrading for making prisoners ‘slop out’ in cells which are often shared with other people.

The Irish Prison Service said slopping out will not end over night, but that “significant improvements” have been achieved in recent years. Twelve per cent of prisoners in Ireland’s prison system – 504 people – are currently required to slop out on a daily basis, a drop of around 50 per cent in the past three years. 182 of these are in Mountjoy.

Many of Ireland’s prisons were built over a century ago and have not been refurbished in many years. That, combined with the increase in the prison population led to the unhygienic practice remaining in place long after it had been abolished in other countries.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said the move was “very positive”.

Separately, 1,606 prisoners – almost 40 per cent of the total – were required to use the toilet in the presence of another prisoner.

The census of the Irish prison system found that close to half of all prisoners are being kept in individual cells. However at least 120 prisoners are being kept in cells which accommodate 4 or more prisoners.

Read: Plan for new Cork prison signed-off by Oireachtas Committee >

Read: Two thirds of Mountjoy cells now have toilets – but many still slopping out >

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