herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Fury at €900k prison bill for dishwashers

PRISONERS are getting new dishwashers, TVs and fridges as part of a €900,000 budget.

The Irish Prison Service will fork out the cash on electrical appliances for prisoners and staff over the next three years.

Prisons will receive a new supply of items such as televisions, kettles, dishwashers and fridges at an enormous cost to the taxpayer.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is currently tendering for a wholesaler to provide the goods at a reduced price, with an annual expenditure of up to €300,000 budgeted.

Prisoners and staff will receive new electrical goods when their existing ones break down, according to the IPS. A spokesperson told the Herald the appliances were required for the day-to-day operation of the prisons, and new ones were constantly required.

Fine Gael's Justice spokesperson Charlie Flanagan slammed prisons for their "lax" regime, in which prisoners are regularly given privileges.

"Privileges should only be granted for prisoners who are well-behaved, and prisoners who continue to behave badly should not enjoy privileges, and these should include electrical goods," he said.

"Value for money is of huge importance, and it's a real issue in prisons, considering how much it costs to keep a prisoner behind bars. The current system is not providing value for money."

Mr Flanagan said the prisoners are now better off than some cash-strapped families who have had to cut down their household bills by getting rid of satellite TV.

However, the IPS stressed that it has to replace the appliances due to normal wear and tear on products.

"They can just decide to not work anymore, and over three years the Irish Prison Service will purchase whatever is needed," the spokesperson said.

Electric cookers, domestic dryers, electric razors, hair-cutting machines and DVD players will also be purchased for the prisons, on a need by need basis.

"We're not going to buy a certain amount of kettles, it'll be as they're needed. We'll get them at a reduced price," the spokesperson added.

hnews@herald.ie

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