LIMERICK Prison is one of two Irish jails to be part of the Department of Justice’s €875m capital plan, which will see a new 150-person cell block and a facility for 58 female prisoners, following the completion of refurbishment works.
The development comprises the modernisation and completion of the prison’s A and B wings, as part of the Government’s five-year €27bn strategy.
It is hoped that the redevelopment will reduce the levels of “slopping out” in the prison.
According to the Irish Prison Service, Limerick is just one of three prisons where the practice of prisoners slopping out still continues.
In response to Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins’ questions regarding the capacity of the prison and the closure of the B wing, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald said that the development is expected to be put out to tender in the first quarter of 2016.
According to the Irish Prison Service (IPS), the B wing has been closed since February 2013, and cells in the A wing date back to the 19th century. A spokesperson for the IPS said that it is preparing plans for an “extensive redevelopment” of the prison.
The new development will have in-cell sanitation and showers and will conform to national and international standards in cell sizes.
The current E wing used to house female inmates will be replaced with a new self-contained unit that will accommodate up to 58 women.
“The result of the project being completed will be an increase in prisoner capacity for both males and females,” the spokesperson added.
When asked if more staff would be taken on as a result of the redevelopment, the IPS said that “staffing implications have not yet been assessed”. Likewise, the IPS said it would not be appropriate to provide details on their estimated cost of the “significant construction project”.
Minister Fitzgerald said in the Dáil that the B wing in the Mulgrave Street jail is one of two areas in the national prison system that is not in use, following criticisms by the Inspector of Prisons and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane Treatment or Punishment with regards to slopping out.
She stated that in January of this year the IPS secured the approval of the Department of Public Expenditure Reform to advance plans for the major development.
The construction of a Limerick courthouse is also part of the €875m capital plan, which includes an additional €10m to be spent on the refurbishment of existing courthouses.