Dáil Éireann - Volume 597 - 08 February, 2005

Written Answers - Prison Accommodation.

[566]   441. Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to utilise the unit adjoining St. Patrick’s Institution at Mountjoy Prison; the number of persons who were employed to work in that building and the number who are still in the employ of his Department; and the way in which he justifies the capital cost of providing this, as yet unused, unit in view of plans to relocate Mountjoy Prison. [3861/05]

  Mr. McDowell: The unit to which the Deputy refers is located at St. Patrick’s Institution. It comprises the refurbished cellular accommodation in ‘B’ wing of the institution and a new adjoining building which houses an education unit and other facilities. The cellular accommodation is being fully utilised at present and parts of the new building are in use. The intention is to bring all of the cellular accommodation and the new building into full and exclusive use for 16 and 17 year old boys but arrangements to do so have to have regard to the outcome of ongoing negotiations on the major organisational change programme in the Irish Prison Service. As I indicated in reply to Question No. 692 on 26 January 2005, discussions with the Prison Officers Association are continuing in this matter following receipt of an arbitration report.

I am satisfied that substantial benefit will be obtained from use of the new unit over the coming years for as long as young people continue to be accommodated in the Mountjoy complex at its current location. In particular, I am satisfied that exclusive use of the unit for 16 and 17 year old boys will represent important progress pending the provision of new children detention centres under the Children Act 2001 and, that the experience gained from such use will help inform the planning of those new centres.

Two persons have been assigned to work at the new unit. One of them, who had accepted a contract psychologist post, has since vacated it following appointment to a psychologist post in the Irish Prison Service from a competition organised by the Public Appointments Service. The second person, who has been assigned by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee as head teacher of the education unit, has been assisting in preparations for its opening.

  442. Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of the tender process, applicants and applications considered, including details of the successful applicant, when commissioning the building of the vacant unit at Mountjoy Prison. [3862/05]

  Mr. McDowell: There is no vacant unit at Mountjoy Prison. There is a unit which is not yet fully utilised in St. Patrick’s Institution which is the subject of a separate question by the Deputy.