Four convicted killers are among 428 prisoners on the run from Irish jails, according to figures revealed by the Minister for Justice.
The number of prisoners at large includes 23 serving time for attempts or threats to murder, and 16 convicted of weapons and explosives offences.
Thirty-two of the prisoners, including three of those convicted of homicide offences, have been on the run since 2009.
The information was provided by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in a written response to a Dáil question this week. Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that 428 persons granted temporary release had failed to return to prison between January 1, 2009, and November 7, 2014.
“Processes are in place in the Irish Prison Service to inform An Garda Síochána when prisoners become unlawfully at large and the gardaí have the power to detain, arrest and return such persons to prison,” she said.
The figures reveal that 38 of the prisoners at large were convicted of burglary and related offences, and 10 were serving time for robbery, extortion and hijacking offences.
More than 100 prisoners have been on the run for over three years; 64 have been at large since 2011, 56 since 2012, and 61 remain missing since last year.
Prisoners may be granted temporary release for a specified period on compassionate grounds, where certain family or domestic circumstances arise. They are considered to be unlawfully at large where the period of release has expired, or a condition has been broken.
Ms Fitzgerald said efforts were being made to address the issue of prisoners fleeing jails while on temporary release.
A project team working closely with gardaí and the Department of Social Protection had led to the return to custody of a number of prisoners, she said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved