The average cost of jailing the State’s most dangerous criminals, including Brian Rattigan and the Dundon brothers, jumped even further last year.
New figures released by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) confirm it costs the tax-payer €1,842 per week to jail each prisoner, including the Republican prisoner group, at Portlaoise prison. This is up from the €1,818 per week per prisoner cost in 2013.
Figures released by the IPS show that the cost per prisoner space at Portlaoise last year increased from €94,575 to €95,818. The total running costs for the prison amounted to over €27.8m.
The cost of jailing the country’s most dangerous criminals at Portlaoise is far in excess of the average annual cost of funding the State’s 4,126 prison spaces, which is costed at €68,959 each.
The €68,959 cost in 2014 is an increase on the 2013 cost per space for €65,542.
The IPS confirmed there were 218 prisoners in custody yesterday at Portlaoise — a prison with a bed capacity of 291.
The high cost per prison arises from Portlaoise being the State’s only maximum security jail where the army is on site to deter any prison escapes.
At Portlaoise, Republican prisoners enjoy a relaxed regime compared to other prisoners across the Irish prison system.
A prison source yesterday said that “anything the Republican prisoners look for, they get”.
He said they can order in through the prison tuck shop frozen pizza, black forest gateaux, and steak dinners from downtown Portlaoise that is brought to prison in the so-called prison service “town van”.
However, the spend on the take-in meals does not place any additional food cost on the IPS as the prisoners pay for these.
The Republicans also all enjoy the use of a gym on each of their four wings in their part of the prison as do the Dundon brothers in their wing. The prison source said that the Republicans “have the best of gyms and the best of equipment”.
All three Dundons are housed in Portlaoise and are serving life sentences for murder, with gang boss Wayne Dundon, aged 37, convicted of the murder of Limerick businessman, Roy Collins.
The 35-year-old father of two was shot dead as he worked in the family business in Limerick on April 9, 2009.
John Dundon, aged 32, is serving life for the murder of Shane Geoghegan, shot dead in a case of mistaken identity in November 2008.
Dessie Dundon, aged 31, is serving life for the murder of rival crime boss Kieran Keane in January 2002.
Rattigan is serving a 2009 life sentence for the murder of 21-year-old Declan Gavin and a separate 17-year prison term for heroin dealing from prison to run concurrently.
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