State facing 263 slopping out cases in former Cork jail

State facing 263 slopping out cases in former Cork jail
Main block of Cork Prison. Picture Dan Linehan

THERE are 263 legal cases being taken against the State by former prisoners for having to slop out in the old Cork prison.

The cases are among 1,600 being taken nationally, with the vast majority of those relating to Mountjoy.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service confirmed that there are 263 cases being pursued in relation to the old Cork Prison, which closed in early 2016.

No case has yet been decided on, with one case relating to Mountjoy currently awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.

Last month, the five-judge court reserved its judgement on that case.

In recent days, the new Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Caron McCaffrey, told the Public Accounts Committee: “More than 1,600 proceedings have been lodged in court by former prisoners in respect of the fact that they did not have in-cell sanitation during their period of detention.”

She said the cases are being handled on behalf of the State by the State Claims Agency.

Sinn Féin’s Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “We have no idea of the cost to the State of this. It could have a significant impact on the public finances.”

He acknowledged that the practice of slopping out has ended with the opening of the new Cork prison in early 2016.

But he said the practice had been slammed in several reports on the old Cork prison.

For example, in 2010, the then Inspector of Prisons said that the practice of slopping out in Cork, Mountjoy and Limerick prisons is “carried out in a chaotic and unstructured manner. This is because of the number of prisoners and the short period of time allocated”.

Around the same time, the prison’s visiting committee also highlighted the slopping out issue.

The report stated: “Slopping out and lack of in-cell sanitation makes living conditions very poor and is made worse by the overcrowding problem.”

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