Major developments about to be delivered at Limerick Prison

The Limerick Prison campus at Mulgrave Street.

A NEW wing will be opened at Limerick Prison on Friday which will provide 102 modern cells with in-cell sanitation for male prisoners at the Mungret Street campus.

The opening of the new facility by Justice Minister Simon Harris represents a significant milestone in the Irish Prison Service’s strategic plan to end the practice of ‘slopping out’ which has been the subject of widespread criticism and legal action over recent years.

In addition to the new cells, there is also ancillary services for staff and prisoners including prisoner workshops, recreational rooms and yard, staff locker rooms, staff mess, administration support offices, a new prison laundry and kitchen.

Meanwhile, work is almost complete on Limerick’s new women’s prison which is expected to be fully operational by the end of summer following the installation of security and safety systems.

The €53 million contract was awarded in February 2019 and the new building incorporates a number of elements to help women prisoners reintegrate back into society.

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It will provide accommodation for 50 female prisoners and is a core element of the Limerick Prison redevelopment project.

Speaking at their Annual Delegate Conference last week, Prison Officers Association President Tony Power said that the level of overcrowding in prisons was  putting both his members and prisoners at risk.

“Overcrowding provides the perfect atmosphere for the bully to thrive. This leads to huge pressure being put on vulnerable prisoners to traffic in contraband, including weapons and illegal drugs. Serious violence is very often part of the scenario and prison officers pay the inevitable price,” he explained.

“More than 200 years ago when Limerick Jail was constructed it was designed on the basis of single cell accommodation. Let’s consider that, over 200 years ago there was a more progressive outlook on penal reform than we have now 23 years into the 21st century.

“Prison numbers have increased year on year, from approximately 3,750 in April 2017 to over 4,400 in April 2023. It’s not as if this crisis happened over night, we had predicted it, and now the numbers are there for all to see and as always for our members to manage at the coalface,” Mr Power added.