From leafy Clontarf to a little cell in C Block, from a Victorian red-brick residence to a Victorian prison, Ivor Callely will wonder whether the €4,000 was worth it.
Now known as prisoner number 92995, Callely spent his first 24 hours of prison life in the committal unit of Mountjoy Prison, right in the basement of C Block.
On his own in a single cell, the former Fianna Fáil junior minister, who has an annual Dáil pension of €47,000, had plenty of time to ponder his next three to four months behind bars.
The court warrant with his name on it committed him to Mountjoy Prison, where, prison sources said, he was treated like everyone else. Luckily for him, the 28-bed committal area was refurbished in 2011.
He was given his cell and waited his turn to see the governor, who told him how things operated in his new home, for now at least. He was given the usual information and allowed to keep his own clothes, which his family will have to provide and wash.
The bigger decision — one that no doubt weighed on his mind — was where he would go once his overnight stay in the committal area was up.
“The committal unit is just an entry point, but it is decided by [Prison Service] Operations where to put him,” said one prison source.
A joke shared among some officers yesterday was whether or not he would stay in Dublin or be sent to Cork prison.
It was not clear last night where prison bosses had decided to place Callely, with some sources indicating he would stay at Mountjoy. This would involve him going to the body of the prison population in either A, B, or C block, something he would not be looking forward to.
Mountjoy is not the condemned prison it once was, with mass slopping-out and overcrowded cells. Now, every cell is a single cell with its own toilet and wash basin. However, it continues to have problems, as seen with the death only last Saturday of 30-year-old Pascal Doyle in his cell. He is suspected of having concealed drugs by swallowing them in packets, but they burst, killing him.
Earlier this year, the State’s drug advisory body categorised Mountjoy as a “high-use” prison for drugs. It is also a prison blighted by violence, including gang feuding.
However, Callely may not be staying in Mountjoy for long. Some sources said he could join low-security inmates in the Midlands, but other well-placed sources said he is due to be transferred to the training unit in Mountjoy, if not today, then in the coming days. While part of the same complex, it is a low-security jail mainly used as a pre-release centre for prisoners.
The unit was used to house both Seán Quinn senior and junior when they spent time in prison in 2012. Prison sources said it was easier if inmates such as these are in the training unit, as staff don’t have to be allocated to ensure their safety.
The unit has a more normalised regime than Mountjoy, with an 8am to 5pm working day, centred around meal times, work activities, and training. Food is generally of a high standard in prison, with a 28-day rotating menu. Breakfast includes cereals, breads, milk and tea. Dinner is at midday and sees chicken, pasta, beef, and bacon on the menu, while, in the evening, tea comprises a fry, chicken pies, or sausages.
He’ll even have his chips.
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