Ten prisoners given Christmas parole have failed to return to jail, it was revealed today.
The eight men and two women were among the 230 inmates allowed out over the holiday by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to spend time with family and friends.
None of the prisoners are high-profile and all were in the last stages of their sentences and due for release between now and April.
They had been due back behind bars on December 27 and 28 but a spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said he expected them to return to their jails in the coming days.
He also said it was one of the lowest numbers for several years.
“It’s certainly lower than the last few years and we would expect the vast majority of these would be picked up fairly quickly,” he said.
Parole ranging from a few hours on Christmas Day to 10 days was granted by Mr McDowell to a total of 230 prisoners, down from 297 last year.
In the first week of January last year 27 prisoners were still enjoying extended Christmas parole.
The missing inmates are considered unlawfully at large and could face fresh criminal charges on their return or if gardaí pick them up. Their disappearance may also affect their chances of future parole or early release.
Two were serving time in Mountjoy, two in Clover Hill and the others were being held in Midlands, Portlaoise, Castlerea, the Training Unit and women’s prison Dóchas.