the degrading practice of “slopping out” at Mountjoy prison “has been consigned to history,” the new Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, has declared.
With the current closure of D wing at Mountjoy and refurbishment of A, B and C wings now complete, slopping out’ no longer takes place at the prison, she said.
“The practice of slopping out is consigned to history in Mountjoy prison. Every prisoner in Mountjoy now has access to in-cell sanitation,” she announced.
Previously, the Irish branch of Amnesty International had expressed its concern over the practice, and Fitzgerald said that the numbers of prisoners slopping out’ across the system has reduced by 67pc from 1,003 at the end of 2010.
Slopping out refers to the practice where prisoners have to urinate and defecate into a small pot in their cell - which they often share with others - and have no access to running water to wash their hands, sleep with the contents overnight and then publicly take the contents to a sluice area the next day.
New figures provided by Ms Fitzgerald to Labour’s Ciaran Lynch, show that in spite of prisoners no longer slopping out at Mountjoy, 334 prisoners - or 8pc of the 4,103 prison population - are forced to continue to practise slopping out across the prison system.
The vast majority are 226 prisoners from Cork prison out of the 234 inmates there.
However, the Minister pointed out that slopping out’ at Cork prison is to come to an end with the construction of a new prison.
She said: “The construction of a new prison in Cork, to replace the existing outdated facility, commenced in late January 2014, and is expected to be completed by July of 2015. Allowing for fit-out, systems commissioning and training of staff, it is expected that the new prison will be ready for operational use by December 2015.”
The figures also show that 49 of the 264 prisoners at Limerick continue to slop out.
In her written response, Ms Fitzgerald said: “Similarly, a Development Plan for Limerick Prison is at an advanced stage and is due for completion by the end of July with a view to the commencement of the development works there on a phased basis starting in late 2015.”
The only other prison where slopping out takes place is Portlaoise, where 59 prisoners continue the practice.
Separately, Ms Fitzgerald confirmed to Mr Lynch that there are currently 261 prisoners on a restricted regime where they are locked up between 19 and 23 hours per day.
She said that 26 prisoners were on a restricted regime in order to reduce the negative effect the prisoners in question have on the prison population.