Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (192, 193, 194)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

310 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a commitment that the planned new Cork facility will not be a privately run institution; and if he will also make a commitment that the planned new Cork facility will not be developed or run as a public private partnership institution. [2445/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I am reviewing the accommodation requirements of the Irish Prison Service for the next five to ten years. The review will include an assessment of requirements for the southern region. When my review is complete, I will bring proposals to Government.

I have made clear that my preference is for all prisons to continue to be managed by the Prison Service, but on the basis of a sustainable cost structure. As the Deputy will be aware, discussions are under way at the Labour Relations Commission between the Prison Service and the Prison Officers' Association on proposals aimed at achieving this objective.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

311 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department has had communications with or retained any outside consultant or organisation to advise the Government with regard to privatising or contracting out aspects or services of the criminal justice and prison system of the Prison Service; if so, the names of the consultants/organisations; the dates of contact; if the contact was initiated by his Department; the services which were or are under discussion; and the current status of any such discussions. [2446/04]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

313 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department has had communications with a company (details supplied) with regard to privatising or contracting out aspects or services of the criminal justice and/or prison system of the Prison Service; if so, the dates of contact; if the contact was initiated by his Department; the services which were or are under discussion; and the current status of such discussions. [2448/04]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 and 313 together.

The Irish Prison Service, IPS, staffing and operations review process identified the stores function within prisons as an area where there was scope for considerable rationalisation, with attendant cost savings. Accordingly, consultants were appointed on a short-term basis to carry out a comprehensive review of the stores function in the Prison Service and to indicate how available resources could be used in a more cost effective manner.

In July 2002, the consultants referred to by the Deputy were engaged to conduct a review of the storage function in the Prison Service at a cost of €45,000, inclusive of VAT and expenses. Officials met with these consultants on various dates between June 2002 and May 2003. The consultants were also in contact with IPS staff in the various institutions during this time as part of the information gathering phase of the operation.

The recommendations and findings of the consultants' report are currently being considered. Elements of this project are heavily dependent on the outcome of the current change negotiations between the Irish Prison Service and the Prison Officers' Association. These issues will be the subject of detailed discussions with the staff side as the process evolves.

In addition, in relation to the possible privatisation of the provision of prisoner transport and escort services, a number of telephone inquiries have been received regarding the prior information notice placed in the EU Journal at the start of this year.

Question No. 312 answered with QuestionNo. 307.
Question No. 313 answered with QuestionNo. 311.