Condition of old Cork prison limits future options, says Junior Minister

Condition of old Cork prison limits future options, says Junior Minister

The prison on Rathmore Road closed in early 2016 and has remained vacant since.

OPTIONS for the future of the former Cork Prison building on Rathmore Road are limited by its age and condition, and requirements to comply with health and safety regulations.

That is according to the Junior Minister for Justice, Hildegarde Naughton.

The prison on Rathmore Road closed in early 2016 and has remained vacant since.

Labour’s Sean Sherlock lodged a parliamentary question to establish what is planned for the building.

In reply, Junior Justice Minister Hildegarde Naughton said that while the Irish Prison Service has no current strategic plan for the future use of the old prison, “preliminary exploratory discussions have taken place with the Land Development Agency regarding options for the future use/development of the site.”

She added, however: “I understand that options on the future use of the existing facility may be very limited due to the age and condition of the buildings, which date back to the 19th century and taking into consideration the requirement to comply with current building standards and health and safety requirements.”

Deputy Sherlock told The Echo: “I posed the question to the Minister because I had received queries on this matter. A public consultation on its future use, involving the people of the city, could be a way forward.”

In December, the head of the Irish Prison Service, Caron McCaffrey, told the Public Accounts Committee that she didn’t think the facility could never be used again as accommodation for prisoners. Since its closure in February 2016, the old prison has been used as a film location. It was adapted to resemble the infamous Maze prison for a film on the 1983 Maze breakout, featuring Tom Vaughan Lawlor.

The grounds of the historic building was home to the grave of nationalist Thomas Kent from Castlelyons, until his remains were exhumed and re-interred in Castlelyons in 2016. The site was opened one last time to the public in May 2016 to allow people visit the former grave of the revolutionary.

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