But the Irish Prison Service (IPS) said only four inmates were in receipt of the legal substitute drug in Cork Prison.
An IPS spokesman said plans for a more comprehensive service were being worked on after the opening of a new healthcare facility in recent weeks.
Cork Circuit Court Judge Patrick J Moran said on Monday that it was unfortunate a defendant before him could not access methadone in Cork Prison.
John Hennessy, aged 28, pleaded guilty to robbery charges, which his barrister, Dermot Sheehan, said was committed to feed his habit. Hennessy, who is serving time in the prison for supplying heroin, told the judge there were no facilities there to help inmates with a heroin addiction.
Judge Moran said: “It is unfortunate you cannot have treatment for your heroin addiction in Cork Prison. The authorities do not have the facilities, which is quite a pity for young men in this city. Heroin is one of the terrible curses of this city.”
The judge made similar comments in relation to Cork Prison in 2010.
An IPS spokesman said that treatment was available there.
“Methadone detoxification has been available, where clinically indicated, in Cork Prison since early 2011 and is delivered by healthcare staff.
“Prisoners entering Cork Prison who, prior to their committal, have been engaged in methadone treatment will have their methadone treatment continued in Cork Prison. Prisoners who wish to commence methadone treatment will be facilitated if clinically indicated.”
He said there were four prisoners receiving methadone in the prison, which on October 20 had a prison population of 281.
The spokesman said services would be developed further with the opening in recent weeks of a new healthcare facility. He said this centre comprised a GP surgery, treatment room, a pharmacy, a dental surgery, and a specific area for the dispensing of medication, as well as administration offices. He said the facility had consultation rooms for use by in-reach healthcare services, including addiction counselling.
“With the recent opening of the new healthcare facility in the prison, the Irish Prison Service will seek agreement with the HSE on the provision of a specialist GP in drug treatment on a sessional basis weekly, in order to further enhance this service,” he said.
He said methadone was available in nine of the country’s 14 prisons and 2,424 people were in receipt of it in 2010, compared with 1,363 in 2006. The spokesman said Merchants Quay Ireland provided an addiction counselling service for prisoners with drug or alcohol problems.