Investigation into ‘improper conduct’ at jail

An investigation is underway into allegations of “improper conduct” at Limerick Prison, the Irish Prison Service has confirmed, after a whistleblower’s dossier was sent to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The high level of spending on TVs at the Mulgrave St jail is among a litany of allegations at the prison.

It has been sent to Ms Fitzgerald, the Public Accounts Committee, the Department of Public Expenditure, and a number of other government departments.

The Prison Service confirmed it has “received allegations of improper conduct at Limerick Prison”, which are now under investigation.

It also confirmed that over €130,000 has been spent on providing 780 TVs in Limerick Prison over the past five years, for 250 prisoners between both male and female wings.

The whistleblower alleges:

  • staff come and go as the please and some are “untouchable”;
  • others attended rugby and GAA matched while on duty
  • others go to the pub during work hours;
  • staff use prison vans for personal use.

The chairman of the PAC, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming, said they have received correspondence on the case, which they forwarded to the Prison Service. He said they are “very concerned” by the variety of allegations outlined in a five-page submission to them, which was printed on Irish Prison Service headed-paper.

In response to queries, the Prison Service confirmed €132,677 was spent on televisions between 2012 and 2016, with 780 bought in that period for Limerick Prison. The highest number was purchased in 2013, with 298 televisions varying from 16in to 40in bought for a total cost of €48,250.44, inclusive of Vat.

Over the five years, 325 22in TVs were bought, 436 at 16in, nine 32in TVs, nine 40in TVs, and one 50in TV.

A spokesperson for the Prison Service said the volume of purchases is higher in prisons than in other facilities within the public sector, such as hospitals, due to damage caused by inmates.

Televisions are provided in all prisoners’ cells, and under the prisoner gratuity policy, a daily charge of 15c is levied on all prisoners to cover the cost of providing the in-cell television service. This charge is deducted from an “incentivised regimes policy”, which provides for a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and behaviour.

There are 194 staff assigned to Limerick Prison, which has a bed capacity of 210 for males and 28 females. Both facilities in Limerick were operating at 100% capacity or over, based on the most recent figures for this week. To alleviate over-crowding, a percentage of prisoners are routinely on temporary release or on remand from the prison.

The Prison Service would not confirm if there has been any update in another investigation of an alleged breach of social media policy by employees at Limerick Prison, saying they do not comment on individual investigations.

‘Thrones’ popular with prisoners

Gordon Deegan

Book lovers in our prisons are big fans of Game of Thrones, it has emerged.

The Irish Prison Service has confirmed the popularity of the US author, George RR Martin, amongst bookworm inmates across the prison system in new tender documents where the IPS is seeking a supplier to provide €25,000 worth of books to the IPS’s library service.

In the tender, the IPS state that it also occasionally receives requests for non-book items such as meditation/relaxation CDs and poetry on CD.

In the documentation, Mr Martin gets special mention along with the authors of other fantasy novels, David Gemmell and Raymond E Feist.

The IPS state that the three writers “are particularly popular and we would put a particular emphasis on the tenderer’s ability to supply complete sets of, or missing volume from fantasy series, as in our experience they can go out of print unexpectedly”.

The IPS notes that 90% of borrowers from the prison service’s library service are male “and many are young and may have limited education”.

The IPS states: “Our service is strongly customer-driven and we place a particular emphasis on satisfying stock requests.”

The IPS goes on to state that other popular genres for inmates are true crime books, self-help books and science fiction novels.

The tender also states: “There will be a strong emphasis on Irish-published titles and titles of Irish interest.

“We may also require books in the Irish language, particularly those aimed at readers wishing to refresh their knowledge of the language having learned it in school.”

Those seeking to tender for the business have until June 28 to do so.


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