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Irish Prison Service Annual Report For 2021 Published

Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee visits new expansion of Limerick Prison, while announcing publication of the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2021.

Limerick Prison, Co Limerick.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD has today visited Limerick Prison, to review its major expansion project, which is nearing completion, and has also published the 2021 Annual Report of the Irish Prison Service.

This expansion to Limerick prison will provide a new accommodation block for male prisoners and a new standalone female prison.

The opening of new male accommodation in Limerick in late 2022, will result in an additional 90 prisoner cell spaces being made available and the completion of the new standalone female prison will provide accommodation for a minimum of 22 additional prisoners.

The Minister was accompanied by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service and took the opportunity to speak with management and staff of Limerick Prison.

Speaking during her visit, the Minister praised the Irish Prison Service for its work: “These works are clear evidence of the Government’s continued investment in the capital development of the prison estate to ensure we have adequate capacity in our prisons.
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.

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

The Minister also noted the highly innovative accommodation which is built specifically for the needs of women.

The Minister said: “It is important that our prisons cater for the specific 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”.

Irish Prison Service Annual Report

On Irish Prison Service Annual Report, the Minister noted the prison system is now returning to more normal activity, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Irish Prison Service Annual Report notes the reduced committals to prison as a direct result of the impact of the pandemic. While this allowed the Irish Prison Service to keep prison numbers at a manageable level to support infection control in 2020 and 2021, 2022 has seen a sustained increase in prisoner numbers being experienced across the system.
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.
I know that the need to ensure the continued availability of modern prison facilities with adequate capacity will be central to the development of the new Irish Prison Service Capital Strategy 2023″.

The Minister added: “Considerable progress has been made on the Programme for Government 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, Stephen Donnelly, and Ministers of State Frank Feighan and Mary Butler to discuss the work of the High Level Taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system.
I look forward to bringing it to Government very soon”.

Minister McEntee also again took the opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the Prison Service staff, in keeping those in custody, safe during the pandemic.

The Minister congratulated the Service on winning a Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Award in 2021 for “Leading Reform During COVID-19″, which was recognition of the efforts made by staff across the organisation to maintain the provision of essential services in the most challenging environment”.

The Minister said, “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 effort, at its finest”.

The Minister also noted that the Irish Prison Service continued to implement its strategic objectives while managing the prison system throughout the pandemic and had, in most cases, met the Output Targets agreed with the Department of Justice including the advancement of the Limerick Prison construction project, the management of prison numbers, and the continued provision of essential prisoner services such as Psychology, Education, Work and Training and Drug Treatment.

A copy of the Irish Prison Service’s Annual Report for 2021 is available HERE.

(Note: Detailed information on the delivery of Output Targets is set out in Pages 11 – 13 and in the chapter on Strategic Objectives Pages 46 – 63.)

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