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Prison conditions

The Minister for Justice & Equality, Alan Shatter gave details to Clare Daly (United Left Alliance, Dublin N) onprogress in addressing concerns about prison conditions, especially over-crowding and slopping out (Dail Eireann, Debates, 7th April 2011, 638-9).  Alan Shatter described the latest report of the Inspector of Prisons this 24th March as a sea-change for the better.  Now 72% of prison accommodation had in-cell sanitation and with the extension to the Midlands prison, this would rise to 80%.  By mid-2011, modifications to the base of C wing, Mountjoy, would provide 36 more cells with sanitation and the prison service had awarded a contract for the remaining 74.  Depending on a post-project appraisal, the service would then consider installing such facilities in the rest.  The evaluation would also inform decisions on the provision of in-cell sanitation in Cork prison and the remaining cells in Limerick.  He added that call sanitation had been a problem in the system for decades.  This week he had appointed a four-person committee to advise by 1st July whether work on Thornton Hall should proceed and the need to meet standards such as in-cell sanitation.

Clare Daly described the lack of in-cell sanitation as a clear violation of human rights for the 28% of prisoners who did not have it.  Progress was inching forward and we needed a time frame for the three prisons affected, as well as alleviative measures such as toilet patrols during the night.  The minister agreed that all cells should have such sanitation.  Originally, there was a view that this was not possible in Mountjoy, but it was possible throughout.  He hoped to have the opportunity to address the issue within the constraints of the resources available.