A €100m-plus 'super-prison' to house 600 male and female inmates will be built on Army lands in Cork.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell revealed that the Cabinet has agreed in principle to the Kilworth location for the new jail over the long-favoured site on Spike Island. The Cork harbour island is expected to be developed as a multi-million euro tourism, leisure and heritage site.
Mr McDowell - who toured the Lynch Camp site in Kilworth last January - confirmed that he now expects work to begin shortly on the project. "The Cabinet has approved it in principle and we have had a survey of the land which has been adopted as suitable," he said.
The Kilworth 'super-prison' will eventually result in the shutdown of the ageing Cork Prison on Rathmore Rd and the transformation of Limerick Prison into a dedicated remand/short-term facility.
The proposed prison would be the largest new jail in the State.
"Cork Prison is overcrowded and conditions there, while it is a well-kept prison, are not up to modern standards and there is still slopping out taking place there," he added.
Mr McDowell said he had been impressed by the Kilworth site both in terms of the available land, access to the site and the local infrastructure.