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€1,343 spent on footballs for women prisoners

MORE than €1,343 was spent on footballs for women prisoners in Dublin last year -- more than 12 times the amount for 2010.

The sum was part of an overall €2,894 splashed out on sports gear at Mountjoy's Dochas Centre in 2011.

The previous year, only €109 was spent on footballs for the inmates, who include Scissor Sisters Linda and Charlotte Mulhall and Black Widow Catherine Nevin.

However, it pales in comparison to the amount spent at the men's jail at Mountjoy where taxpayers paid for €5,440 worth of footballs last year.

The sum increased from €436 in 2010.

Prisoners in Limerick jail received €10,339 worth of footballs out of a total bill of €19,482.

The data was released by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and showed that only the open prison at Shelton Abbey in Co Wicklow had its sports budget increased.

The facility spent €15,329 last year, up from €8,986.

"Physical education gives prisoners the chance to take control of one aspect of their daily life," Mr Shatter stated.

It had the "potential effect of increasing their motivation to tackle issues such as substance abuse and taking up education or work opportunities," he added.