Jailed crime bosses to get en suite prison cells

THE country’s most serious prisoners are to get a state-of-the-art sports facility and new en suite cells.

Gangland bosses and dangerous subversives will enjoy an indoor five-a-side football pitch as well as indoor volleyball and tennis courts as part of a major redevelopment of Portlaoise Prison.

They will also get en suite prison cells with shower and toilet.

The plans are part of a €20 million capital building project in the high-security prison, which will see the replacement of the current “E” block with a new “C” wing.

The “E” block takes almost all those sentenced or held on remand from the Special Criminal Court, which deals with subversives and serious criminals.

Inmates include the head of the Real IRA, Michael McKevitt, the head of the Real IRA splinter group, Liam Campbell, gangland boss John Gilligan and his lieutenant Brian Meehan, Limerick crime boss Christy Keane and Finglas gangster John Daly.

There are up to 60 inmates associated with the various subversive groupings, as well as around 40 serious criminals.

The redeveloped fifth floor of the “C” wing will have a huge sports hall, including a five-a-side indoor pitch, volleyball and tennis courts. The hall will also have a “religious centre”.

In what will be a first for the prison system, each cell will have a toilet and a shower.

They will be designed in such a way as the toilet and shower areas will be effectively en suite.

The inmates currently have to slop out in their cells after 8pm.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said the en suite cells were “the way forward” and would be copied in other prison redevelopments.

He said Portlaoise Prison had “very little recreational facilities”. The contract had already gone out to tender and construction would start next March, he said.

In a report on Portlaoise Prison, published on the Department of Justice website over the weekend, the Inspector of Prisons, Dr Dermot Kinlen, criticised the system whereby prisoners with a mental illness had to be escorted 50 miles to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

“The fact that there is a psychiatric hospital within a few hundred yards from the prison is still being ignored and it is an amazing waste of taxpayers’ money in conveying prisoners up and down to the Dublin-based psychiatric hospital.”

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