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Prison privatisation not an option says Ó Snodaigh

22 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has reacted angrily to reports of a "radical plan to privatise the prisons" in the event of industrial action by the Prison Officers' Association (POA).  Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"While I accept that the enormous levels of prison officer overtime are a problem that needs to be solved I do not accept for one minute that privatising the prisons is a viable solution – or even an option.

"Not only do I have a problem in principle with privatising prisons, the international evidence around the operation of private prisons gives cause for serious concern.  Not only do we find that there have been significant problems with private prison conditions and the protection of the human rights of the prisoners, we also find no conclusive evidence that they save the state money at the end of the day. 

"Privatisation would represent a major shift in penal policy and I demand to know where this proposal is coming from.  There was no indication that this was part of the coalition Programme for Government, and there has been no public debate on this issue, so how can this plan materialise out of nowhere? If such a plan does in fact exist, it is another despicable example of this Government being hijacked by the right-wing agenda of its Justice Minister who pursues his agenda by stealth.

"If such a plan exists it is unacceptable and the public deserves immediate clarification by Minister McDowell."   ENDS

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