New Cork jail to add fewer than 20 places


The new prison planned for Cork to replace the existing jail in the city will add fewer than 20 spaces to the existing overcrowded prison service, it has emerged.

While the current Cork Prison regularly accommodates 295 prisoners, the new jail on the site to replace it will be built for 310 prisoners.

One measure aimed at minimising noise at the jail for prisoners and nearby residents will be the use of drug search dogs and guard dogs that have been specifically trained not to bark.

H-block design

The jail will be built in a H-block design, with some sections two or three storeys high and containing an attic services floor. A high perimeter wall that was partially constructed 10 years ago for a project that was later abandoned is to be incorporated into the new project.

The first documents outlining the facility and released by the Department of Justice reveal the jail will have spaces for 310 male prisoners.

It had been envisaged that the existing jail, which is in poor condition, would be closed when a new prison at Kilworth, Co Cork, was built. However, it was then decided that such a greenfield site would be too expensive to develop.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and director general of the prison service Michael Donnellan earlier this year expressed their preference for a replacement facility to be built in the car park of the existing Cork city jail on Rathmore Road.

The environmental impact documents, which have just been released, suggest the prison will take two years to build from the time work begins. While the new facility will add only modest additional accommodation, its size will be welcomed by many prisoner advocacy groups.

Observers such as the Irish Penal Reform Trust have long argued against larger jails saying they are too hard to run and lead to the warehousing of prisoners which makes rehabilitation impossible.

Repeated criticism

Dating back to 1849, the existing Cork Prison has been repeatedly criticised for decades in reports drawn up by the prison’s visiting committee, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and in reports by the inspector of prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

Judge Reilly has recommended numbers at the jail be kept at 194 prisoners or lower.

However, last year there was an average of 295 prisoners housed at the jail each day.