herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Dissident prisoners order in steaks, duck pate and ice cream

Portlaoise Prison, where pampered dissident prisoners can order all manner of fancy foods, such as Ben & Jerry’s
Portlaoise Prison, where pampered dissident prisoners can order all manner of fancy foods, such as Ben & Jerry’s

Fillet steak, smoked salmon, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Glenisk organic yogurt, Camembert cheese, Magnum ice-creams and Green & Black chocolates are some of the luxury foods enjoyed by pampered dissident republican prisoners in the country's highest-security jail.

The picky prisoners in Portlaoise jail can order food in from local shops in the Midlands town in a privilege not afforded to "ordinary criminals" - who can buy treats only from the prison's tuck shop.

The scale of the order-in service operated by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) is revealed for the first time, with 316 pages of food orders obtained through a Freedom of Information request for January and June this year.

Mockery

The total spend in January alone was more than €6,400, with the prisoners paying for the goods themselves.

Yesterday, victim of dissident republican violence Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was murdered in the Omagh bomb massacre in 1998, said the privilege of ordering in luxury items "makes of a mockery of the criminal justice system".

"The vast majority of people in Ireland would be disgusted to hear about these privileges, and that's not to mention the people who have suffered from these people's actions," he said:

The food orders covering January and June show the dissidents ordering in sirloin steaks, tuna steaks, Goodfella's pizzas, duck pate, blueberries, Keogh's gluten-free sweet chilli crisps, Glenisk vanilla and strawberry organic yogurt, muesli and Kettle crisps.

A spokesman for the IPS said yesterday that subversive prisoners in Portlaoise Prison "have a somewhat different regime to other prisoners due to historical and political reasons". 

He said the order-in facility is not a new concession and has been available to subversive prisoners in Portlaoise since 1973.

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