Inmate in Limerick Prison given €300 loan to buy Xbox

The Limerick Prison campus at Mulgrave Street.

A PRISONER in Limerick Prison was given an almost €300 interest-free loan from the Irish Prison Service (IPS) to buy an Xbox.

This comes amid reports that prisoners nationwide received almost €600,000 in interest-free loans from the IPS in the past four years.

The figures, published in the Irish Independent, showed that €580,000 in loans were taken by prisoners, including €105,345 loaned to women prisoners in the Dóchas Centre, Mountjoy Prison’s female wing.

According to the report, one inmate in Limerick Prison received a loan of €300 to but an Xbox games console, while a Dóchas Centre inmate received a similar amount to buy a dog.

By the end of 2022, the IPS said that all but one per cent of the total amount of loans to prisoners had been recouped.

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The prison loans are decided on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the prisons governor.

The prison service said that most of the loans were for purchases from the prison’s tuck shop or for prisoners who have fallen on hard times.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, the IPS said that the money for the Prisoners’ Hardship Fund comes from the prisons themselves.

“The Irish Prison Service can confirm, monies provided through the hardship fund is not from voted funds but is made up from the net surplus generated in prison tuck shops.”

“The issuing of funds is managed at a local prison level with the Governor retaining discretion in relation to payments made,” a spokesperson for the IPS said.

Examples of the types of assistance available to prisoners includes payments to secure accommodation for individuals on release and for prisoners who are suffering financial hardship while in prison.

The IPS said that, in the vast majority of cases, the money is recouped by the prisons, but there are specific cases where the money can not be gotten back.

“In exceptional cases where loans are provided for the reasons set out below, money is not recouped in all incidences,” the spokesperson said.

This happens in cases where funds are given to a prisoner on release or payments to prisoners in emergencies – such as purchase of clothing for long-term prisoner who has no family support or a compassion grant to a prisoner who may have family milestone, such as a communion, and who may be suffering hardship.