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Written Answers. - Prison Accommodation.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 181. Mr. Shatter Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  the use of Shanganagh Castle; his plans to ensure the optimum use of the castle and changes proposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3821/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue Shanganagh Castle was opened as a detention centre in 1968 for young male offenders in the 16-21 year age category. The complex consists of the castle, which is mainly the administrative centre, accommodation centre and a block providing education, workshops, gym facilities, etc. Accommodation is provided in a dormitory setting for a maximum of 60 offenders. The regime is open and relaxed with offenders generally receiving 50% remission on the portion of their sentences served there. In addition, offenders are granted periodic weekend temporary release to return home.

The majority of offenders who are transferred to Shanganagh Castle are initially committed to St. Patrick's Institution as this is the main committal institution for young offenders in the 16-21 year age category. Offenders in Shanganagh are generally either first-time offenders or those who are serving their first custodial sentence for a non-violent offence and are not considered aggressive, intimidatory, or to be actively taking hard drugs.

In the light of the very considerable decline in numbers in Shanganagh Castle, the director general of the Irish Prisons Service established a [1635] group to examine its future role in the prison system. The director general has informed me that this group has submitted a draft report whose recommendations are currently being considered. If, after consideration of the final report, it is decided that major changes are required, a three to four month consultation period will ensue before any final decisions are made.

Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for me to comment regarding the future role of Shanganagh Castle in advance of the recommendations of the review group being presented to and considered by the interim prisons board.

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