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Sunday Times: Prisons set to lose case over slopping out

18th July 2010

In an article in the Sunday Times, Sarah Mclnerney reports on the judgment in the 'slopping out' case this week.

Figures received by Ciaran Lynch TD (Labour) and shown to the Sunday Times, reveal that over 97% of prisoners in Cork Prison slop out - a prison where almost all prisoners share cells; in Mountjoy Prison, 481 of the 628 prisoners slop out [a total figure which seems low, given that numbers have consistently been between 660 and 700 so far in 2010]; and in Limerick, one-third of prisoners slop out.

Sarah McInerney quotes Ciaran Lynch TD: "These figures are an appalling reflection of how antiquated our prison service has become. It is unacceptable that anyone should be forced to live in such squalid conditions."

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, is also quoted in the article. He believes future claims could succeed:

"One of the main factors which influenced the judge last week was that, because the prisoner had a cell to himself, his privacy and human rights weren't being seriously violated," he said. "These figures show that that is not the case elsewhere. We now learn that everybody in Cork is slopping out, and virtually everyone there is also doubling up in cells. The same applies in Mountjoy; a large number of people are doubling up or, in many cases, tripling up in cells.

"That's a much more chaotic environment. There are more serious problems with hygiene and splashing of liquids. In some cases people are locked up for 23 hours, and have little activity. Given all these factors, if any of those prisoners took a case, it has to be a real possibility they would succeed."

The response from the Irish Prison Service cited in the article refers to the Thornton Hall and Kilworth prison building projects. However, since Thornton Hall is now set to be completed in 2015 at the very earliest, IPRT believes that government and the IPS need to find an interim solution, and they need to find it now.

Read the article in full on the Sunday Times website.