Six convicts remain at large after absconding from custody here over the past four years.
That is according to new figures released by the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan who has confirmed that this year, two prisoners are still at large as a result of four absconding from custody since January.
The six convicts remain at large from a group of 39 prisoners who have absconded since 2014.
Mr Flanagan said that last year nine people absconded but none of those prisoners are still at large. In 2015, 15 prisoners absconded and three of those are still at large while 11 absconded in 2014 with only one of those still at large.
In a written Dáil reply to Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan, Mr Flanagan stated: “Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame... In October 2012, the director general of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine how the Irish Prison Service might reduce the number of prisoners who are unlawfully at large from custody.
"The project team has worked closely with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Protection and its work has led to the recommittal of a number of prisoners who had absconded from custody.
This project is ongoing.”
Mr Flanagan confirmed to Mr Durkan that currently in Irish prisons, there are 12 criminal gangs and these do not include subversive groups in Portlaoise.
Mr Flanagan said that 64 arrests have been made under Operation Hybrid with eight persons charged in connection with gang feud murders and three on related offences.
He said €100m has been set aside for Garda overtime this year “which will facilitate the continuation of large-scale policing operations, including those targeting gangland crime, burglary and terrorist activities”.
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