The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, has today, Thursday 16th January 2014, signed a €35 million contract with PJ Hegarty and Sons for the construction of a new prison in Cork. Construction of the new prison will commence on Monday 20th January 2014 and will take approximately 18 months to complete. When commissioned the new facility will be ready of occupation before the end of 2015.
The Minister acknowledged that this was a historic day for Cork Prison and the Irish Prison Service and said that, having visited Cork Prison following his appointment in 2011, it clear to him that the existing facility came nowhere near to meeting the standards for conditions of imprisonment that are acceptable to a modern society and urgent action needed to be taken.
Speaking at the contract signing the Minister said, ” I am satisfied that, in the current economic climate, the approach being proposed (by the Irish Prison Service) was the most prudent and cost effective and would replace the existing facility in the shortest timeframe possible.”
“The new prison will provide approximately 275 spaces for prisoners based on double cell occupancy and all cells will have toilets and showers. The new prison in Cork will have a completely new type of visiting facility that is centred on the need to provide an environment for visits that is welcoming and comfortable in so far as is possible in a prison setting”, added Minister Shatter.
The Minister noted that this project will represent the largest single investment in infrastructure by the Irish Prison Service in its history and welcomed the fact that local Cork company PJ Hegarty and Sons had been the successful tenderer for the project, which would ensure that the construction was of benefit to the local community.
“The €35 million investment being made by the Irish Prison Service in this project will be a welcome boost to the local economy”,said the Minister. “This project is expected to create up to 200 specialist, professional, skilled and unskilled jobs at its peak and Industry experts would also say that the majority of the €35 million will re-invested in the local economy. As well as the direct and indirect employment in the project, there are multiplier effects associated with local purchasing of materials and services and local spending of wages and salaries”, he added.
The Minister said that the refurbishment project in Mountjoy and the construction of the new prison in Cork, to be completed by the end of 2014 and 2015 respectively, are testament to the Government’s delivering on its commitment in the Programme for Government to the modernisation of the prison estate and the elimination of slopping out.