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Prison Education Service.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 7 November 2006

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Questions (70)

Ciarán Cuffe


131 Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason training and education programmes in St. Patrick’s Institution for 16 to 21 year olds are almost non-existent; his plans to rectify this situation at St. Patrick’s Institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36332/06]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice)

I do not accept the Deputy's assertion that training and education programmes in St. Patrick's Institution are almost non-existent. On the contrary, there are a number of workshops currently in operation — covering Woodwork and Joinery; Computer Training; Industrial Cleaning and Industrial Skills. A Metal Workshop is also due to open soon. Some young persons also work in the kitchen and laundry areas — with others engaged in painting, general cleaning and horticultural work around the Institution.

Educational classes and courses are provided by a team of twelve full time teachers in the Education Unit. Courses offered cover a wide range of subjects — including English, Maths, Computers, Art, Music, Home Economics and Guidance. St Patrick's Institution also has a structured literacy programme.

All young persons are interviewed for both Work/Training and the Education Unit and offered places in one or other of these activities. In addition, all have access to library facilities and a fully fitted out gymnasium.

I should also add that St Patrick's Institution has, in recent years, introduced important new programmes for the rehabilitation of young persons including a drug-free wing and a positive sentence management programme. It also offers a range of in-house programmes in the areas of addiction awareness, treatment and counselling (i.e., drugs, alcohol).

Furthermore, St Patrick's Institution takes a proactive approach in developing and maintaining links with a wide range of community and voluntary bodies. There are about 50 such bodies and groups with which the Institution engages and interacts either on an in-reach basis or with a view to securing post-release placements for young persons from St Patrick's Institution.

Ongoing implementation of the new working arrangements agreed with the Prison Officers Association in the Proposal for Organisational Change should enhance prisoner regimes in the years ahead, particularly in terms of improving availability and facilities, and making the most of out-of-cell time for all persons in custody — including young persons in St Patrick's Institution.

The Deputy will also be aware of my plans to close St Patrick's Institution as part of the redevelopment of the Mountjoy complex on the new site in Thornton Hall in North County Dublin. This major prison building programme will offer significant improvements in the areas of work, training, educational and medical services for inmates as well as predominantly single cell accommodation with proper in-cell sanitation facilities.