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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 3 Feb 1938

Vol. 70 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Vote 34—Prisons.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £1,504 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Costaisí Príosún, na Fundúireachta Borstal, agus coinneáil-suas na nGealt gCuirpthe a coinnítear in Ospidéil Mheabhar-Ghalar Cheanntair (17 agus 18 Vict., c. 76; 34 agus 35 Vict., c. 112, a. 6; 40 agus 41 Vict., c. 49; 47 agus 48 Vict., c. 36; 61 agus 62 Vict., c. 60; 1 Edw. VII., c. 17, a, 3; 8 Edw. VII., c. 59; agus 4 agus 5 Geo. V., c. 58).

That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £1,504 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1938, for the Expenses of Prisons, the Borstal Institution, and the Maintenance of Criminal Lunatics confined in District Mental Hospitals. (17 and 18 Vict., c. 76; 34 and 35 Vict., c. 112, sec. 6; 40 and 41 Vict., c. 49; 47 and 48 Vict., c. 36; 61 and 62 Vict., c. 60; 1 Edw. VII., c. 17, sec. 3; 8 Edw. VII., c. 59; and 4 and 5 Geo. V, c. 58).

This sum of £1,504 which is asked for is due to additional sums required under the following headings: victualling, £500; electric light installation, £24; manufacturing department, £1,600. These amounts will be set off by Appropriations-in-Aid, £300 and savings on other sub-heads, £320. The increase in victualling is due to an unexpected increase in the cost of food as compared with last year. As to the electric light installation, provision was made in the Estimates last year for £200 to carry out certain electric lighting in the prison warders' quarters attached to Mountjoy. A sum of £164 was expended and a sum of £24 for materials became due for payment within the financial year which was not anticipated at that time. The increase in the manufacturing department is due to unexpectedly large orders from the Post Office and from the Army. There were 4,000 palliasse cases for the Army and 2,200 mail bags for the Post Office. The sum will be recouped to the prison service, but it will not come in this financial year; it will not come until after the 31st March.

This Vote covers equipment for Borstal institutions. I want to suggest to the Minister that the Borstal equipment of the country is not proper or adequate and that these moneys should not be voted unless and until it is made adequate. We have a Borstal institution in this country for youths, but as yet we have no Borstal institution for young women. The result of that is that in a considerable number of cases a district justice has a young girl brought before him and he is satisfied in his mind that that girl ought to be removed from the surroundings in which she is living at the time of the prosecution. But she is too old to send to an industrial school and, accordingly, the district justice has no place to send her unless he sends her to prison. He may feel that, bad as the existing surroundings are, to put her into the company of prison inmates would be even worse. He has open to him the alternative of exacting an undertaking from the girl that, if he deals with her under the Probation of Offenders Act or remands her, she will go into a certain selected home. His difficulty is that if he deals with the case under the Probation of Offenders Act on the girl giving that undertaking, the girl can go into the home on Monday and leave it on the following Tuesday. The district justice has no means of compelling her to carry out her undertaking to stay in the suitable place for a reasonable length of time and only too often that girl comes before him again in even more deplorable circumstances and winds up by going to jail. If we had a suitable Borstal institution, girls so circumstanced could be put there and given some kind of training which would equip them for earning their living when they come out and they would be delivered from the very special dangers which usually wind up in disaster for girls of that type.

The Deputy ought to be thankful to the Chair for allowing him to make the point he has made. He must realise that advocating the establishment of an extra Borstal institution does not come within the scope of the Vote. The Deputy must realise that.

I certainly bow to the ruling of the Chair.

And I am sure that the Deputy agrees with the Chair.

I hope the Minister will bear in mind the representations which the Chair declares to be out of order.

The Deputy knows that if the banks of the river break down, it may be very difficult to stop the flood.

I fully agree and am glad to co-operate in sand-bagging the breach.

Vote agreed to and reported.