Nineteen inmates 'slopping out' in Limerick Prison

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Some 77 inmates at Limerick Prison are locked up in their cells for 21 hours a day for their own protection or that of others

Some 77 inmates at Limerick Prison are locked up in their cells for 21 hours a day for their own protection or that of others

NINETEEN inmates at Limerick Prison are continuing to ‘slop out’ from their cells, but the “inhumane” practice is expected to end in 2020.

Over 800 High Court cases on “slopping out” in prisons are expected after the State lost a landmark action in the High Court last week.

The court ruled the State had breached the constitutional rights to privacy of prisoner Gary Simpson who had to defecate and urinate in a chamber pot in front of other cellmates while in Mountjoy Prison.

Official figures show approximately 880 similar cases have been litigated and are before the courts. A further 1,400 actions are at pre-litigation stage.

The latest figures from the Irish Prison Service show that 19 inmates in Limerick’s Mulgrave Street jail continue to slop out, as of this July, in addition to 41 prisoners in Portlaoise.

The practice is due to end across the entire Irish prison estate by 2021, following further multi-million euro capital works programmes in Limerick and Portlaoise.

The number of prisoners without access to in-cell sanitation has decreased from 1,003 at the end of 2010 to 60 this July.

The slopping out regime was condemned in 1993 by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture, which urged it be ended as a matter of the highest priority.

The €8.6m redevelopment of Limerick Prison is set to comprise of a new 103-person cell block and a facility for 58 female prisoners, which will more than double the capacity for female inmates jail. It also includes the modernisation and completion of the A and B wings.

The first phase of the development will comprise enabling works at a cost in excess of €8.6m, with the construction phase, due to start in February 2018, and due for completion in 2020. Figures show that 77 inmates in Limerick Prison are locked in their cells for 21 hours a day – the highest lock-up rate in the country after Mountjoy’s men’s prison, where 122 inmates are locked up for the same period.

The majority of those in their cells for 21 hours a day in Limerick is due to Rule 63 – for the protection of vulnerable prisoners, which can be enforced on a voluntary or involuntary basis.