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
Castlerea 28.75 100
Cloverhill 35.5 34
Cork 31.5 64
Dóchas On demand As required
Limerick 21.25 85
Loughan House 6 95
Midlands 21 96
Mountjoy On demand As required
Portlaoise C Block 49 93
Portlaoise E Block 49 93
Shelton Abbey 11 99
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
Wheatfield 16 68

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.