Minister reviews work on €60 million Limerick Prison expansion

Justice Minister Helen McEntee with Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffrey at Limerick Prison.

JUSTICE Minister Helen McEntee reviewed progress on the construction of a new female prison and an additional male accommodation block at Limerick Prison when she visited the Mulgrave Street complex last Thursday.

The €60 million project, which is due for completion by the end of the year, will result in an additional 90 male spaces and a minimum of 22 spaces in the new female prison.

Minister McEntee said that the Limerick project was clear evidence of the Government’s continued investment in ensuring adequate and appropriate capacity in the prison system.

“I am hugely impressed by the new facility here in Limerick Prison which demonstrates the Irish Prison Service’s commitment to the provision of safe and secure custody in facilities that are designed to support prisoner rehabilitation.”

The Irish Prison Service committed in its strategic plan to the elimination of the practice referred colloquially as ‘slopping out’, through the provision of in cell sanitation in the older parts of the prison estate where that practice remains.

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Completion of these works is another step to achieving this essential goal and will end the practice of slopping out at Limerick Prison.

Minister McEntee also made reference to “the highly innovative accommodation which is built specifically for the needs of women.

“This new facility has been carefully designed to meet these needs and will help the women prisoners there to address the factors that led to their offending and provide them with opportunities for a better life post imprisonment,” she added.

The Minister was accompanied by Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffrey and they availed of the opportunity to launch the service’s annual report with Minister McEntee stating that the prison system was returning to more normal activity following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The annual report notes the reduced committals to prison as a direct result of the pandemic. While this allowed prison numbers to be kept at a manageable level to support infection control, 2022 has seen a sustained increase in prisoner numbers across the system,” she explained.

 “I would like to congratulate the Irish Prison Service for their notable success in the management of Covid-19 in our prisons and their continued protection of vulnerable people in a very challenging environment. Their service during the pandemic was an outstanding example of public service at its finest.”

“We are expanding capacity, not just here in Limerick but also with the additional spaces that have already been provided by the reopening of the Training Unit in Mountjoy Prison as a facility for older prisoners earlier this summer,” Minister McEntee said.

“Considerable progress has been made on the commitment to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of those imprisoned, and primary care support on release.

“I met recently with the Minister for Health to discuss the work of the taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system and I look forward to bringing it to Government very soon,” she concluded.