525. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of hours the library in each prison is scheduled to open each week; the percentage of scheduled opening times these libraries were actually open during 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20660/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the number of hours the library in each prison is scheduled to be open, and the percentage of hours they are open, is set out in the table. The libraries for Arbour Hill, Dóchas, Mountjoy, Wheatfield East Wing and the Training Unit are open as the demand requires.
|Scheduled Opening Hours (per week)||% hours open January - December 2014|
|Arbour Hill||On demand||As required|
|Dóchas||On demand||As required|
|Mountjoy||On demand||As required|
|Portlaoise C Block||49||93|
|Portlaoise E Block||49||93|
|St Patrick's Institution/Mountjoy West||Library reopened in August 2014 and is scheduled to open for 14 hrs per week||100|
|Training Unit||On demand||As required|
|Wheatfield East Wing||On demand||As required|
Libraries in prisons are regarded by prison management as key elements in the process of normalisation and rehabilitation for prisoners. Library services in prisons are mainly provided by Local Authority library personnel deployed to prisons. In some cases, libraries are managed by prison officers or prisoners, with professional librarian oversight. While it is the case that a shortfall in staffing numbers on a particular day can impact negatively on service provision, the Irish Prison Service is actively pursuing the option of having all libraries in prisons managed by long-term, suitably trained prisoners, with professional oversight in order to maximise the service. Prisoners have been trained up and are active in supporting library services in Arbour Hill, the Midlands Prison, Training Unit, Castlerea Prison, Limerick, Portlaoise, Mountjoy, Wheatfield and the Dóchas Centre. In Cork, Shelton Abbey and Loughan House prisoners assist in the running of the libraries.