INMATES of Cork prison spent close to €500,000 on cigarettes, sweets, newspapers and other items in the prison’s tuck shop over a 12-month period.
And figures from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan showed that in 2017 the tuck shop made a profit of just over €88,000.
The figures were provided in the Dáil by the minister on foot of a query from Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry.
Inmates in the prison system can purchase items in the shop with a daily gratuity they receive through the Irish Prison Service.
Each inmate on a standard regime is entitled to €2 a day, with 15c deducted for an in-cell television, and 15c deducted for a phone service for prisoners.
The remaining €1.70 can be spent as the prisoner wishes.
However, as a result of the prison system’s incentivised regime, some prisoners can get €2.20 (excluding television and phone) if they are on the enhanced regime. Those on the basic regime are eligible for 95c per day.
They can also earn extra through doing work in the prison but there is a cap of €18.90 in their income per week, including their daily gratuity and work gratuity.
Each inmate has their own account. Purchases they make are deducted from these accounts.
Mr Flanagan said the profits made in the tuck shops each year are transferred to the Irish Prison Service’s Prisoner Assist Programme “to fund projects for the benefit of the prisoners, in a planned and coordinated way”. The fund allows the payment of hardship funds to prisoners in need, while the Community Return Programme is another beneficiary of the programme.
He added: “It is Irish Prison Service policy that products are sold in the tuck shops at recommended retail price as advised by the contracted supplier.”