Limerick Prison Expansion – Helen McEntee TD, Minister for Justice reviewed the ongoing construction at Limerick Prison.
Limerick Prison Expansion will include 90 new cells and a separate female-only prison with 22 cells
Helen McEntee, The Minister for Justice has visited Limerick Prison to review its major expansion project, which is nearing completion, and also published the 2021 Annual Report of the Irish Prison Service.
This Limerick Prison expansion will provide a new accommodation block for male prisoners and a new standalone female prison.
The opening of the Limerick Prison expansion in late 2022 will result in new male accommodation with an additional 90 prisoner cell spaces being available and the completion of a 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 the management and staff of Limerick Prison.
Speaking during her visit, the Minister praised the Irish Prison Service for its work saying, “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 to 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 added, “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.”
On the 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.”
Minister McEntee also again took the opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the Prison Service staff to keep 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.
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