‘Slopping out’ to end in Cork prison

Victorian practice o to end with the development of a new jail with in-cell sanitation

Thu, Jun 27, 2013, 20:44

The Victorian practice of “slopping out” will end in Cork prison with the development of a new jail with in-cell sanitation, the Dáil has heard.

The new prison will accommodate 275 prisoners but will have only 30 designated single cells. Introducing the Prison Development (Confirmation of Resolutions) Bill, which effectively gives planning permission for the building, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said the prison in Cork “will have 170 cells which will house 275 prisoners and have a maximum capacity of 310 prisoners”.

The Minister said she was aware of the concerns of the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice about the plan for double occupancy in cells. “Given the current number of prisoners in custody - 4,250 on any given day - the Irish Prison Service is not in a position to provide single cell accommodation to all prisoners.”

And she said in some cases prisoners were housed together other than for lack of capacity. “Family members, friends and co-accused often request a shared cell,” and it could be very beneficial, particularly for those who were vulnerable and at risk of self-harm.

But Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn described it as a “missed opportunity” that only 10 per cent of the accommodation “in a brand new prison” would be single cell occupancy.

If prisoners were sharing a cell overnight, “the practical reality is that they will have to use the toilet in front of each other. That is not what we should want for our prison system because it undermines the dignity of those affected.”

The Donegal North-East TD said he appreciated single occupancy could not be provided in every cell but when “59 prisoners are currently under protection in Cork prison, 30 single occupancy cells appear to be inadequate”.

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