Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (49)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

47 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is planning to close the Dóchas women’s prison in the Mountjoy complex; the basis for such a closure in view of the amount of public money spent in developing the Dóchas prison and the quality of the service it provides; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6218/04]

View answer

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

Since the opening of the Dóchas centre in 1999, there has been a serious overcrowding problem there, even with the benefit of an additional 20 spaces provided in the final phase of its construction. I do not regard this as an acceptable situation.

Social trends across Europe indicate that we will continue to experience an increasing level of women prisoners in our prison system in the future. It is the Government's intention, therefore, to include an expanded version of the Dóchas centre in the plans to move the entire Mountjoy prison complex to a green-field site in the greater Dublin area. Provision will also have to be made for additional spaces for women prisoners in the Munster area where there is currently serious pressure on the 20-person unit at Limerick prison.