PETTY offenders still have to slop out at Limerick Prison while hardcore gang members enjoy the relative comforts of having toilets in their cells, it has been claimed.
And members of the notorious McCarthy-Dundon and Keane-Collopy mobs have more modern, spacious cells than the small-time crooks confined in the most dilapidated and dirtiest sections of the prison, according to insiders.
The Irish Prison Service has announced a three-year plan that would end the practice of slopping out - where prisoners empty buckets of waste. In Limerick, the plan also provides for the refurbishment of the A and B wings, which date back to the 1820s.
In a report published last November, prisons inspector Judge Michael Reilly said these wings were the most overcrowded and dirtiest in the jail. While inmates on the C and D wings, which date from 2003 and 1998 respectively, have in-cell sanitation, A and B prisoners were still slopping out, he found.
There were 104 prisoners in the 55 cells on the older wings on November 3, while 194 men shared 130 cells on C and D.
Judge Reilly said he had received an undertaking that slopping out on A and B wings would come to an end by way of “toilet patrols” where prisoners would be escorted to toilets on demand during lock-up periods.
A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service told the Limerick Leader that this had been implemented by way of an order from Governor Eamon Mullane.
“A governor’s order is in place that any prisoner that wants to use a toilet during lock-up is facilitated and we are satisfied that it is working appropriately,” the spokesman said.
But informed sources contradicted this, saying prisoners on the older wings were “still slopping out every day of the week”.
“The McCarthy-Dundons, gang members, are on C and a lot of their rivals are on D. There are security reasons for that, that they have to be kept apart. But it means it is the people in for petty burglary and robbery who have to slop out. We have people coming into prison for the first time, it could be for some minor drug offence, who are genuinely scared. They are the ones who end up in the worst conditions,” one said.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said it was up to the governor to decide where prisoners were put.
“Likewise he decides on issues relating to protection and the segregation of prisoners but we cannot comment on those arrangements.”
He pointed to other actions put in place since Judge Reilly’s November report. These included the soundproofing of the screened area for prisoner visits, where “inadequate” audio equipment meant visitors could not hear the prisoner they were visiting.
“The nature of the room, which had echo problems, contributed to that. But is has been sound-proofed to alleviate the problem and is regularly tested by management.
“The inspector was actually quite complimentary in his follow-up report that many of the immediate issues have been addressed and there is an action plan to deal with the inspector’s recommendations in the longer term.”