Prisoners to work with horses in new stables outside jail campus
Project is brainchild of Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation
Mark McGoldrick project manager, Fergal Black director of care and rehabilitation, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton, Castlerea prison Governor Martin Reilly and Robert Hall of the Irish Horse Welfare Trust with horse handlers Joe and Cora Sharkey.
Prisoners in one of Ireland’s jails will get to work outside the prison in stables with up to 10 horses in a bid to secure jobs in the equine industry when they are released.
The new stables will be located beside Castlerea Prison and while security measures including CCTV will be installed to monitor the prisoners, the facility will be outside the prison campus.
With construction now getting underway at the Co Roscommon site, the new Horse Welfare Centre will have single stables for 10 horses in a single structure ‘American stable’.
It will also include a tack room, fodder and general storage areas, water and light, a 250 metre square exercise arena and staff and prison facilities such as a canteen and toilets along with office space.
The prisoners who care for the horses will do so while undertaking an accredited course endorsed by the Racing Academy & Centre of Education (RACE), Ireland’s academy for the horse racing industry and international jockey training.
Minister for State at the Department of Justice David Stanton TD (FG) turned the sod on Friday at the new centre. The brainchild of Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation, will be run in collaboration with a partner from within the equine industry.
“This project, will give participants many positive benefits in terms of self-development, preparation for employment, positive impact and physical and mental well-being and these will be vital as they seek to turn their lives around after release,” Mr Stanton said.
He added the project had only become possible because of the “vision and drive” of Mr Irwin.
Governor of Castlerea Prison Martin Reilly said the centre was an exciting new venture for Castlerea Prison.
“Public safety is achieved by working innovatively with offenders and addressing the primary causes of their offending behaviour,” he said.
“Finding and securing meaningful and purposeful work and activity after release is absolutely essential to give offenders real hope and the opportunity to have a different, better life for themselves and their families after prison.”