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Irish Times: Ex-prisoner loses his 'slopping out' action

15th July 2010

In today's Irish Times, Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Editor, reports on and offers an analysis of the implications of the judgement in Mulligan v. Portlaoise Prison:

"The High Court judgment finding that slopping out in Portlaoise Prison did not violate a prisoner’s constitutional rights does not give the Government the green light to continue the practice. It indicated that in another case, with other facts, the outcome might be different."

She adds:

"The judgment gives a graphic and disturbing description of the system of slopping out, whereby the prisoners have to urinate and defecate into a small pot, sleep with the contents overnight, have no access to running water to wash their hands and then must walk publicly with the contents to a sluice area the next day."

Of course, the situation in Portlaoise Prison, while unacceptable, is less horrific than in Mountjoy and Cork Prisons. In these - chronically overcrowded - prisons, adult men are living in multiple occupancy cells, often under 23-hour lock up, and eating their meals in the same cells. Indeed, the Inspector of Prisons noted in his 2009 report on the inspection of Mountjoy, that he had observed 7 men sharing 3 buckets in one cell.

Slopping out is inhumane and degrading and it must stop.

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