End "Victorian prison conditions" says O'Brien
Speaking following the publication the annual reports of the Prison Visiting Committees throughout the state, Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien, welcomed their publication, but said he was dismayed to see that Fine Gael was carrying on the previous government’s practice of publishing bad news stories on a Friday afternoon when the media were less likely to pick up on them. He called on the government to improve prison conditions as a matter of urgency.
The Cork North Central TD said:
“The reports paint a picture of draconian, Victorian conditions that have a seriously negative impact on the lives of prisoners. Cork prison has particularly degrading conditions with ‘efforts being made to solve “slopping out” by introducing a new “slopping out” vessel,’ according to the report. No person should be slopping out in this day and age. People are being kept in conditions that no right-thinking individual would think was fit for an animal.
“The report of the Visiting Committee to Mountjoy Prison makes for particularly grim reading, with the issue of overcrowding not being addressed adequately. The minister’s plans set out in the capital allocation to the Department of Justice will do nothing to address Mountjoy’s practice of putting eight prisoners in to a cell designed for four with no sanitation facilities and nothing but mattresses on the floor.
“Prisoners are in 23-hour lock-up as a result of petty squabbles, in clear breach of their rights. Prison policy should not be constructed on what is easiest for management of the prison because the Minister will not resource it properly. Prisoners are real people. They are not just numbers.
“Mental health services are particularly lacking in prisons. I am asking the minister to examine this as a matter of urgency. If he is committed to continue to force prisoners to live in these inhumane and degrading conditions that will have a hugely detrimental effect on their mental health, then he must provide them with the correct mental health services and supports that they require.”