Over €80,000 spent on prison footballs


THE IRISH Prison Service spent more than €80,000 on footballs over the last two years, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said.

The plastic footballs accounted for more than 10 per cent of the overall figure of €768,224 spent on sporting equipment in the 14 men’s and women’s prisons across the State in that period.

A total of €35,851 was spent on footballs in 2010 with Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin, which primarily caters for remand prisoners from the Leinster area, accounting for more than a third of the spend at €12,431.

More than €10,000 was spent on balls at both Cork Prison and Limerick Prison. The spend on footballs increased by 27 per cent last year to €45,702, and this did not include Shelton Abbey in Co Wicklow or Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon (where €3,956 was spent on footballs a year earlier), as the figures were not available.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said the organisation could not say how many balls the money had been used to buy.

The prison population stood at some 4,400 inmates yesterday. If each football was given a nominal value of €10, the amount spent suggests that, on average, one could be bought for almost every prisoner each year.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question from Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten.

He said there were serious questions about whether spending €80,000 on footballs represented good value for money. He said 37,000 balls could be purchased for that price if bought in bulk.