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All prisoners go back to jail after release for Christmas

EVERY prisoner given temporary release for Christmas has returned to jail on time.

Prison officials declared this was the first Christmas in many years that nobody had breached the temporary release regulations.

Usually a small number of inmates, between two and eight prisoners, return late after their Christmas break, although most eventually show up by the middle of January.

And this year it was expected there would again be some prisoners who abused the system by failing to come back on time, as the number let out on seasonal parole was 226 offenders, compared with 160 and 134 in the two previous years.

Their period of release ranged from a few hours up to seven nights.

Three quarters of them are serving their sentences in lower security institutions.

The group included murderer Sean Courtney, who is completing a life sentence for the killing of Dublin woman Patricia O'Toole. The most high profile temporary release was former billionaire Sean Quinn (66) who was serving a nine-week sentence for contempt of court.

hnews@herald.ie