73. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for the closing of the training unit in Mountjoy Prison; the plans that are in place to provide a fit for purpose replacement unit in the interim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15801/17]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service has commenced the repurposing of the Training Unit Place of Detention (on the Mountjoy Prison Campus) to a dedicated Unit for older prisoners. It is intended that the Unit will be fully vacated of prisoners and staff in May 2017.
A key action of the current Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan (Action 2.5) is to ensure that older prisoners are identified as a specific group who have particular needs within the prison population. There are currently a number of such prisoners in the care of the Irish Prison Service who have significant and ongoing healthcare needs, many of whom are currently dispersed across the estate and in some cases significant distances away from the healthcare providers they rely on.
The establishment of the unit will allow the Irish Prison Service to accommodate such prisoners in a purpose built unit within close proximity to a variety of medical care and will also allow for appropriate remedial works to the accommodation which is currently outdated and lacks in-cell sanitation thus delivering on the commitment to provide in-cell sanitation to all prison cells.
It is envisaged that the repurposing of the unit will take 18-24 months to complete. During this time, it will be necessary to accommodate current prisoners elsewhere in the prison estate, primarily within the Mountjoy Campus.
It is intended that prisoners who are currently on programmes of temporary release will be facilitated in continuing with such programmes.