THE IRISH PRISON SERVICE (IPS) is spending vast amounts paying for TV subscriptions for its inmates, and have spent over €300,000 on Sky Sports and other premium access channels in the last four years, according to figures.
According to the Irish Examiner, almost €7,000 a month of Irish taxpayer money is being put towards TV package deals for prisoners to enjoy while behind bars.
The IPS has defended the decision to pay for a multitude of premium TV services, stressing that incidents of self-harm and suicide have dramatically reduced since television were introduced in the prisons.
"Prisoners serving sentences are very much isolated from society and access to televisions, radios and newspapers are important to help keep prisoners connected with society and their communities," said an IPS spokesperson.
Reportedly, €80,760 was spent by the IPS on multi-channel services in 2018, which was a small decrease from the €83,357 they paid for the same services the previous year.
They also revealed that they spent €82,144 and €80,356, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, bringing the total over the four-year period to €326,617.
While they didn't reveal a breakdown of exactly which channels were being ordered, they did confirm that Sky Sports was among the premium channels made available to prisoners.
All prisoners reportedly have access to free-to-air channels in their cells, but they can upgrade to premium channels of their choosing by deduction a portion of their daily pocket money.
They're allegedly given up to €2.20 per day, which can be used to buy non-essential goods such as cigarettes, sweets and computer games, but many have used it to pay for TV subscriptions.
Communal and recreational areas are also said to contain large TV screens which are hooked up to a plethora premium digital channels.
The total sum of pocket money given to prisoners last year was €2.8 million.