Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has come under attack in the Dail over the rise in crime rates and plans to shut down Shanganagh Prison.
Opposition parties said the soaring crime figures were an indictment of the Government's failure to tackle the problem.
Amid noisy Dail scenes, Mr Ahern defended the closure of Shanganagh, which houses low-risk offenders aged between 16 and 21.
He said: "I think we have now 20 inmates at Shanganagh and 47 prison officers. It clearly makes sense to move Shanganagh and to reinvest the money."