A NEW €8 million medical and educational facility has been officially opened at the oldest prison in the Republic.
The state-of-the-art facility is at Limerick Prison, which houses 275 male and 20 female prisoners. This is the latest phase in the redevelopment of the 19th-century building where two new prisoner blocks have been developed in the past 10 years.
According to Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan, who performed yesterday's opening, plans are also under way to replace the remaining two Victorian cell blocks at the Limerick jail.
All of the female prisoners and 175 of the male prisoners at Limerick have in-cell sanitation, leaving 100 prisoners still engaging in the practice of "slopping out".
Mr Lenihan said the new development was just one aspect of a major capital programme "into which the Government is currently investing significant resources".
This building programme, he added, included the relocation of the four prisons on the Mountjoy campus to a 140-acre site at Thornton Hall, north Co Dublin, the replacement of Cork Prison and the redevelopment of Portlaoise Prison.
"Between them, these comprise nearly 40 per cent of the entire prison estate and the completion of these projects will thankfully see the end of the practice of slopping out."
The new €8 million facility at Limerick will cater for prisoners' educational, work training and medical needs. A fully equipped gymnasium and sports hall have also been provided with equipment for prisoners' recreation.
Mental healthcare along with primary care will be provided in the medical area of the new facility where drug-treatment services will also be provided to prisoners.
Prison governor Tadhg O'Riordan acknowledged the input of the late governor of the jail Pat Laffan, who died suddenly two years ago.
The Irish Times