Over half a million to be spent on gym gear and Sky Sports packages for our prisoners
The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is set to splurge around €420,000 on gym and sports equipment for the many gym bunnies, yogis, boxers and other sports enthusiasts serving time across the prison network.
In addition, away from the gyms and sports halls, the IPS will spend another €80,000 this year on Sky Sports and other premium TV channels to allow prisoners to cheer on the likes of Mo Salah, Paul Pogba and Sergio Aguero in the English Premier League.
This follows figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request, showing that the IPS spent €82,829 on multi-channel subscriptions last year, following a spend of €81,817 on multi-channel packages in 2016.
Access to Sky Sports is available only for well-behaved prisoners on "enhanced landings", through communal TVs in recreation areas.
In their own cells, prisoners have access to only a basic multi-station TV package.
However, spending time in the gym is the most popular single activity for the 3,970-strong prison population and the IPS is set to spend €420,000 on new equipment and sports gear over the next three years.
The IPS believes that the provision of gym equipment helps in the rehabilitation process for prisoners, as sport and recreation form an important part of the daily regime and it improves the prisoners' health and fitness.
The items of gym equipment to be purchased include treadmills, step machines, leg presses, chest presses, leg curl machines, leg extensions, leg row machines, pec decks, seated arm curls, shoulder press machines, spin bikes, indoor rowers and bicycle ergometers.
The IPS requires the cardiovascular, weight resistance and gym equipment and light loose gym equipment at Castlerea, Cloverhill, Cork, Dochas Centre, Limerick, Loughan House, the Midlands Prison, Mountjoy, Portlaoise Prison, Shelton Abbey and Wheatfield Prison.
In addition, the IPS is also seeking a supply of yoga mats for the prison population, along with exercise matting; soccer posts, nets and balls, volleyball equipment, basketball posts and balls, and indoor tennis nets, rackets and balls.
The prison service will be looking for firms to supply heavy-duty 40kg punching bags, along with mitts and focus pads for the boxers.
The IPS will also be stocking up on ping pong tables, bats and nets.
For those prisoners opting for more sedate activities away from the gym and five-a-side pitch, the IPS has also confirmed that the supply of chess sets, draughts sets, playing cards and pool tables is part of the tender.
Those firms seeking to supply the goods have until June 27 to submit their bids.