Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (62)

Róisín Shortall


58 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners absent without leave from prisons as a result of escapes or failure to return from temporary release; the steps being taken to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6258/04]

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

I again take the opportunity to dispel any belief that there is a major security issue in this area. In this context, I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 403 of 18 November 2003 and Parliamentary Question No. 5 of 29 January 2004 which give background material on the issue.

The most recent list of persons who are at least technically "at large" indicates that there are 665 such persons. As previously indicated, this list is under ongoing review, on a case by case basis, and it is anticipated that this process, when completed, will lead to a more realistic and significantly reduced figure. The Deputy will appreciate that the examination of individual records is a timely process and that this exercise is subject to the resources available to undertake this process.