The announcement follows criticism in the Circuit Courts last Friday where Judge Patrick J Moran hit out at the lack of methadone treatment for heroin-addicted criminals sent to the prison.
Judge Moran made the comments at Cork Circuit Criminal Court when sentencing heroin addict Timothy O’Shea of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork, to an additional year in prison — on top of an eight-year term for heroin dealing.
“You were going to Cork Prison, aware there are not the facilities that there should be for heroin addicts, namely methadone treatment,” Judge Moran told O’Shea.
“It is regrettable Cork Prison does not have that facility.
“I say that, bearing in mind all the young people on drugs who come before me, I would have thought the authorities would bring Cork Prison up to the level of other prisons in the state.”
Responding, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) said the HSE had secured funding in 2010 to develop drug treatment services in HSE South covering Cork, Kerry and Waterford.
A spokesman for the service said it was expected this would significantly increase the number of people in Cork city availing of drug treatment, including methadone.
“As such, Cork prison is likely to encounter an increase among new committals of persons engaged in community drug treatment,” he said.
The spokesman said a new healthcare facility had been sanctioned for Cork Prison and an invitation to tender for the project was published at the end of October. He said the tender had been awarded and was due to be completed by the end of first quarter in 2011.
He added: “Discussions have been ongoing with the HSE with a view to developing drug treatment services at Cork Prison. It has been agreed by the HSE and the IPS that the most effective and safe manner to develop drug treatment services in Cork Prison is to enter into a service level agreement with the HSE to provide in-reach services.”
The spokesman said this would integrate the delivery of drug treatment services between the community and the prison.
“It is hoped that the IPS will be in a position to commence the service when the new healthcare facility is available.”
But he added: “This is, of course, subject to the availability of resources.”
The spokesman said prisoners who are on methadone when sentenced to prison will “in the main” have their methadone treatment continued while in custody.
“Prisoners committed to Cork Prison who are receiving methadone substitution treatment are generally transferred to prisons where methadone maintenance is available,” he said.