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Shatter announces major redevelopment at Limerick Prison

Both the A and B wings will be replaced with a modern, 100-cell accommodation block.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

ALAN SHATTER HAS given the go ahead to the Irish Prison Service to proceed with preparations to replace both the A and B wings at Limerick Prison with a modern 100-cell accommodation block.

Parts of the prison were deemed ‘not fit for purpose’ in a damning inspector’s report earlier this year and a number of issues in relation to cleanliness and hygiene were raised.

As part of the refurbishment, in-cell sanitation will be provided to ensure the practise of ‘slopping out’ is discontinued. New ancillary support services including additional recreational areas and kitchen facilities are also planned, as well as a dedicated committal unit and a high support unit.

The Inspector of Prisons report also noted serious problems in relation to the older A and B divisions, including overcrowding and poor physical conditions.

“In order to sufficiently address these issues the replacement of the outdated prisoner accommodation in the A and B wings of Limerick prison, which were constructed in 1821 and can no longer be considered fit for purpose in the twenty first century, is essential.” said Minister Shatter.

The Justice Minister added that he was happy that “very significant” progress had been made at the prison since the report was published in January.

After visiting the facility today, he said, “I have witnessed first-hand the results of the concerted efforts which have been made by management and staff to ensure that the prison complies with best practice and offers as humane a regime and environment possible to both prisoners and staff.  The level of cleanliness is exceptionally high and the standards of hygiene which are being maintained in a difficult physical environment are to be commended.”

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) cautiously welcomed today’s announcement to replace the outdated accommodation at Limerick Prison. However, it warned that any expansion in the number of cells must only be used to relieve overcrowding and “not serve to increase numbers” in the prison.

Currently, there are 55 in the A and B wings so the 100-cell replacement will mark a significant increase. According to the IPRT, 104 inmates were housed in these wings, representing 200 per cent of the single-cell design capacity.

“Increasing the size of and numbers in prison does not – and will not – reduce levels of crime,” said a spokesperson for the trust. “Instead, building smaller prisons within the community, with emphasis on alternatives to custody and prison as a last resort, while investing in early intervention and prevention measures, is of far greater social and economic benefit to society.”

More: Inspector’s report finds Limerick Prison ‘has made progress’>

Report: Parts of Limerick Prison ‘not fit for purpose’>

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