By Gordon Deegan
The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is set to spend around €420,000 on gym and sports equipment for the prisoners serving time across the network here.
In addition, the IPS to set to spend another €80,000 this year on satellite TV channels for prisoners.
This follows figures released in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request showing that the IPS spent €82,829 on multi-channel subscriptions last year and this followed a spend of €81,817 on multi-channel packages in 2016.
Access to sport satellite channels, such as Sky Sports, is available only for well-behaved prisoners on ‘enhanced landings’ at prisons through communal TVs in recreation areas.
In their own cells, prisoners have access to only a basic multi-station TV package.
However, spending time in the gym is the most popular single activity for the 3,970 strong prison population and the IPS to set to spend €420,000 on new equipment and sports gear over the next three years.
The IPS believe that the provision of gym equipment helps in the rehabilitation process for prisoners as sport and recreation form an important part of the daily regime of prisoners and improves inmates’ health and fitness.
The items of gym equipment to be purchased include treadmills, step machines, leg presses, chest presses, leg curl machines, leg extensions, leg row machines, pec decks, seated arm curls, shoulder press machines, spin bikes, rowing ergometers and bicycle ergometers.
The IPS requires the cardio vascular, weight resistance and gym equipment and light loose gym equipment for the following prisons - Castlerea, Cloverhill, Cork, Dóchas Centre, Limerick, Loughan House, Midlands prison, Mountjoy, Portlaoise prison, Shelton Abbey and Wheatfield prison.
In addition, the IPS is also looking to supply yoga mats for the prison population along with exercise matting, soccer posts/nets and balls; volleyball posts, nets and balls; basketball posts/nets and balls and indoor tennis nets, rackets and balls.
The prison service will be looking for firms to supply heavy duty 40kg boxing punch bags, boxing mitts and focus pads for the boxers. The IPS will also be stocking up on table tennis tables, bats and nets.
For those prisoners opting for more sedate activities away from the gym and five a side pitch, the IPS has also confirmed that the supply of chess sets, draught sets and playing cards and pool tables is part of the tender
Those firms seeking to supply the goods have until June 27 to submit their tenders.