343. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time the construction of a new female prison in Limerick and a new wing at Limerick male prison will take to complete; if both construction projects have commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28094/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that a contract has been awarded for a substantial development at Limerick Prison, which comprises the construction of a new wing for male prisoners, a stand-alone unit for female prisoners, staff facilities, a new kitchen, a new visits and reception area, a laundry, and training and recreation facilities. The project also includes the construction of new offices for the Probation Service.
Construction work on the new prison facilities commenced in February this year and is expected to be completed in February 2021. This will be followed by a period of commissioning of the various security systems. It is expected that the new prison facilities will be ready for operational use in the second half of 2021.
The construction of the new prison facilities at Limerick Prison represents a further important milestone in the Government’s commitment to the programme of modernisation of the prison estate.