More than 600 new prison spaces to be created to hold ‘those who cause damage and misery’ in Ireland

More than 600 new prison spaces to be created to hold ‘those who cause damage and misery’ in Ireland

A FUNDING injection of £93m will see 670 additional prison spaces created in Ireland it was confirmed today.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has secured the additional funding for justice projects undertaken from 2024 to 2026, which will include plans to extend Ireland’s prison estate.

“Today’s announcement of additional funding means we have a plan to ensure our prison estate is big enough to hold those who cause damage and misery in our communities,” Minister McEntee said.

“Hundreds of new prison places will be created, adding to the 200 plus spaces we have introduced in the past few years,” she added.

“It is important that we continue to review and plan for additional capacity, which may be needed given increasing populations, and the introduction of some higher maximum prison sentences, including for assault causing harm and conspiracy to murder, which will have impacts on the amount of time people spend in prison.”

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced the funding this morning

Of the €93m funding allocation, €49.5m is being allocated to increase prison capacity and “address current capacity constraints” in Ireland’s prisons, Ms McEntee’s office has confirmed.

“Preparatory work will commence this year on four key projects in Cloverhill, Castlerea, Midlands and Mountjoy prisons as part of an accelerated capital construction programme with construction expected to start on a phased basis in 2025 – 2027,” they added.

When completed, space for up to 670 prisoners will be created under the new funds.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is also currently working on shorter term projects which have the potential to provide an additional 95 spaces in 2024, the organisation claims.

Extra prison spaces will be created at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin

The funding announcement has been made on the same day that Ms McEntee will welcome new prison officer graduates from across Ireland.

“It is an announcement I am glad to be able to make on a day on which I will be welcoming a new class of Prison Officers who are graduating today,” Ms McEntee said.

“This allocation sends the message to those new recruits, and to their colleagues across the IPS, that we value their contribution and are improving the working and living conditions for them and the people in their custody, with the ultimate goal of ensuring our prisons are safe, provide dignity of care and rehabilitation to prevent reoffending and build safer, stronger communities.”

A further €26.2m of the funding allocation is being allocated to Garda ICT to implement key technology projects including body worn cameras, enhanced cybersecurity, and improved Garda security vetting systems.

The funding will also be used to complete existing prison projects, such as refurbishment works in Slane, Co. Meath and Abbeyleix, Co. Laois and the development of a new Garda Station in Bailieborough, Co. Cavan.

New Garda stations are also due to be built in Macroom Co. Cork, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary and Portlaoise, Co. Laois, with construction expected to start on these later this year.