The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., today announced that he has requested the Irish Prison Service to proceed with the preparation of plans for a major redevelopment at Limerick prison to include the replacement of the A &B Wings.  

"In January, 2012 I published a report by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, of an inspection of Limerick prison.  The report raised a range of issues in relation to cleanliness, hygiene and regimes and services available in the prison. The Irish Prison Service put in place an action plan to deal with the concerns raised with me by the Inspector and I am happy that very significant progress has been made in Limerick prison in dealing with the deficiencies identified.  Having visited the prison today I have witnessed first-hand the results of the concerted efforts which have been made by management and staff to ensure that the prison complies with best practice and offers as humane a regime and environment possible to both prisoners and staff.  The level of cleanliness is exceptionally high and the standards of hygiene which are being maintained in a difficult physical environment are to be commended."

The report by the Inspector of Prisons also raised a number of serious issues in relation to the older A and B Divisions in the prison including overcrowding, poor physical conditions, the absence of in cell sanitation and the absence of a dedicated committal and high support unit. 

"In order to sufficiently address these issues the replacement of the outdated prisoner accommodation in the A and B wings of Limerick prison, which were constructed in 1821 and can no longer be considered fit for purpose in the twenty first century, is essential" said Minister Shatter.

"Accordingly, I have given permission to the Irish Prison Service to proceed with the drafting of detailed plans for the replacement of these two wings with a new modern 100 cell accommodation block with in cell sanitation which will include provision for a dedicated committal unit and high support unit and which will also provide for new ancillary support services including additional recreational areas and a new kitchen facility with work training facilities."

"In its recently published Three Year Strategic Plan the Irish Prison Service outlined a 40-month capital plan to provide in-cell sanitation in all cells and to significantly improve prison conditions in the older parts of the prison estate including Limerick, Cork and Mountjoy prisons. In order to ensure that this is achievable, the largest single allocation of the capital allocation to the Justice Sector for 2012 was provided by me to the Prison Service to fund the Prison Service Building Programme thus delivering on commitments made by this Government in the Programme for National Recovery."

"Today’s announcement to proceed with plans for a replacement accommodation block in Limerick prison, coupled with plans for the replacement of Cork prison and the significant progress which has been made to date in Mountjoy prison in relation to the improvement of physical conditions and the provision of in-cell sanitation is concrete evidence of my commitment to radically improve the prison estate. I am determined that Ireland complies with domestic and international best practice and that the vision of the Irish Prison Service of "a safer community through excellence in a prison service built on respect for human dignity" is delivered."

11 June, 2012