This Bill has its origin in certain difficulties that have been experienced with regard to the closing of certain prisons in the country. That is with regard to the interpretation of Sections 7, 30 and 31 of the Prisons Act, 1877. The first difficulty that arose was with regard to the closing of Tralee Prison. That prison was closed in 1920. It was afterwards used in 1925 as a military barracks and subsequently handed over to the local authority. Certain proceedings were brought and it was held that the Closing Order of 1920 was ineffective and invalid because no special reasons were stated, as set out in Section 30 of the Prisons Act of 1877.
A further difficulty subsequently arose with regard to the Kilkenny Prison. That prison was closed and part of it was handed over to the local authority and part of it—that is the governor's house—was rented by the State to the superintendent there. Proceedings were brought in the High Court by the county council and it was held that the Order was invalid in so far as you could not close part of a prison without closing the whole lot, and that you could not hand over part of it to the local authority without handing over the whole lot.
There are certain other difficulties with which we are faced and we want to regularise them. These difficulties existed for years with regard to the Dundalk and Roscommon Prisons. That is the object of this Bill. Section 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill are intended to replace Sections 30 and 31 of the Prisons Act, 1877. Section 6 is intended to cover the case of the Tralee Prison and Section 7 that of Dundalk.