Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD performed the official opening of the new Cork Prison today, Monday 18th July 2016.
The building of a new prison to replace the unfit conditions that existed in the old Cork Prison, during a time of limited fiscal resources, demonstrates a real commitment by the Tánaiste and the Department of Justice to addressing serious human rights issues in Irish prisons, including slopping out and overcrowding. IPRT strongly welcomes this.
The new prison has an official capacity of 296, with in-cell sanitation in all cells and improved facilities, including outdoor green spaces and family visiting facilities. However, while welcoming the significant improvements, IPRT is disappointed that the new prison operates a cell-sharing policy, and not single cell accommodation which is best practice and supports safer prisons.
It is essential now that the significant capital investment in the new Cork Prison is met with adequate medical, education and training resources to ensure that prison regimes in Cork can support the Irish Prison Service mission of providing safe and secure custody, supporting better rehabilitation and public safety.
It also important that recent community-based initiatives that have safely reduced the numbers in prison - such as the Community Return Programme and, in particular, Unlocking Community Alternatives- A Cork Approach- continue, and are adequately resourced and regularly evaluated.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Tánaiste restated her commitments to abolishing slopping out in Irish prisons completely, with refurbishment plans at Limerick and Portlaoise Prisons at an advanced stage. Since 2011, the number of men slopping out in prison in Ireland has been reduced from just over 1,000 to around 85 today. That is welcome progress.
Previous IPRT comment:
- IPRT: IPRT welcomes progress on Cork Prison but warns against penal expansion (Jan 2014)
- IPRT: Plans to expand capacity and for double occupancy at new Cork Prison regrettable and regressive - IPRT (June 2013)
- IPRT: Proposal on Cork Prison offers positive and practical vision for addressing acute problems in Irish prison system (Feb 2012)
- IPRT Position Paper 4: Human Rights in Prison
- IPRT Position Paper 5: Penal Policy with Imprisonment as a Last Resort
- Irish Examiner: Justice minister: New Cork prison not too plush for inmates (19 July 2016)
- Evening Echo: Mayfield gets extra community guards (19 July 2016)
- UTV News: €45m Cork prison has official opening
- Dept of Justice: Speech by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. on official opening of new Cork Prison, 18 July, 2016
- RTÉ 'Today with Sean O'Rourke': A New Prison in Cork (14 June 2016, scroll to bottom of page)
- Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice: New Cork Prison doesn't meet necessary standards (2013)