4th October 2021
The National Development Plan (NDP) sets out the Government’s over-arching investment strategy and budget for the period 2021-2030. While the NDP is comprehensive – covering transport infrastructure, access to education and health services etc – investment in the justice sector, including prisons, is also detailed in the plan.
Open centre provision: The provision of new and improved accommodation and services at both existing open centres listed in the NDP as a “priority” over the years 2022 to 2025, with the NDP stating that plans are being developed to upgrade, improve and provide additional capacity at these centres. This is welcome. However, the absence of any open centre provision for women remains unaddressed. The lack of open centre provision in a more urban area is also needed, coupled with a proportionate reduction in closed prison spaces. (See PIPS 2019, Standard 6 for more on our vision for open centre provision in Ireland.)
In-cell sanitation and slopping out: E Block in Portlaoise Prison is one of only two locations in the Irish prison estate where people in prison are regularly required to ‘slop out’. Following the completion of ongoing redevelopment of Limerick Prison, E Block is expected to be the only location where slopping out continues. It is very welcome that a project “to provide for in cell sanitation is to be progressed” in E Block, subject to “appraisal and approvals”. The provision of in-cell sanitation in E Block would mean, subject to the completion of ongoing works in Limerick Prison, that slopping out would finally be eliminated in prisons in Ireland. The practice of slopping out has been subject to criticism by various international human rights bodies for many years.
Investment detailed in the NDP will also provide for the improvement of the Dóchas Centre, Cloverhill Prison and Wheatfield Place of Detention. IPRT is hopeful that the planned investment in prison infrastructure including ICT infrastructure and videolink infrastructure will lead to the smooth continuation of video calls in all prisons into the future.
The Prison Capital Programme is covered on p.153 + p.154 of the National Development Plan here.