472. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason two of the open prisons are running at 80% capacity and yet prisoners are being detained in the basement of Mountjoy Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18842/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that there are no prisoners detained in basements in Mountjoy Prison. All accommodation cells utilised in Mountjoy Prison meet international minimum standards for the accommodation of prisoners. While an area of the prison is officially referred to as “B Base” this area of the prison is not a basement as suggested by the Deputy's question.
Decisions taken to transfer prisoners to Open Centres are taken after rigorous assessment by my officials with the primary concern being public safety. The determining factor in those decisions does not relate to numbers of prisoners within closed prisons on any one day, but rather are taken after consideration of public safety, the prisoner’s progress and behaviour with the closed prison system and the potential for rehabilitation.
Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that in 2018 a total of 87 prisoners transferred directly from Mountjoy Prison to the two Open Centres namely Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.