The intention is that prisoners who transferred from the Curragh Place of Detention to the Midlands Prison on 19 and 20 January 2004, will continue to have access to education classes. The Deputy will appreciate that the transfer of the 85 prisoners concerned has involved inevitable short-term disruption to their education provision. This disruption arises not only because of the significant logistics involved in the transfer arrangements but also the impact of the transfer on day-to-day security and other operational arrangements at the Midlands Prison. Every effort is being made, however, to keep this disruption to a minimum.
The director general of the Irish Prison Service informs me that provision is already made for five prisoners who had been undertaking open university courses at the Curragh Place of Detention to continue their studies at the Midlands Prison. In addition, education records from the Curragh Place of Detention, together with some education equipment, have been transferred to the Midlands Prison and further such transfers will take place in the coming fortnight to facilitate the commencement of taught education classes for the transferred prisoners.
Since the closure of the Curragh Place of Detention, teachers from County Kildare VEC have continued to report there to complete the mothballing of the education unit and assist in the transfer of the education records and equipment to the Midlands Prison. The teachers have also liaised with colleagues based at the Midlands Prison in regard to arrangements for continuation of education programmes which had been in place at the Curragh Place of Detention. The Irish Prison Service is currently in touch with the Department of Education and Science and County Kildare VEC about the possibility of secondment of teachers from the Curragh Place of Detention to provide education classes at the Midlands Prison. I understand that a meeting to consider this option will take place later this week involving each of the foregoing parties and the Teachers Union of Ireland.