Over €75m in extra funding for prisons and police

Over €75m in extra funding for prisons and police

More than €75 million is to be invested in the Irish Prison Service and An Garda Síochána as part of a €93 million capital funding package announced today.

The additional funding brings the total capital allocation available for the justice sector in 2024-2026 to €930 million.

Justice minister Helen McEntee said: “This funding is the very welcome result of extensive negotiations which have been ongoing for some time, and which will now allow us to deliver on a number of very significant commitments across the justice sector.

“The significant allocation for the Irish Prison Service will allow it to address current capacity issues within our prison system and ensure that it is fit-for-purpose for a growing population in the years to come, building upon the increases in prison spaces already being delivered this year through a range of short term projects.”

“In addition, the allocation for An Garda Síochána will allow it to expand upon the technological innovations currently available to them. This is important as it has been a priority of mine since becoming minister for justice to improve the protections and technology available to gardaí, in order to better support them as they continue to protect and serve our communities.”

Of the €93m funding allocation, €49.5m is being allocated to further increase prison capacity and address current capacity constraints in the prison estate.

Preparatory work will commence this year on four key projects in Cloverhill, Castlerea, Midlands and Mountjoy prisons as part of an accelerated capital construction programme with construction expected to start on a phased basis in 2025-2027.

When completed, space for up to 670 prisoners will be created. The Irish Prison Service is also currently advancing a number of short term projects which separately have the potential to provide an additional 95 spaces in 2024.

Mrs McEntee said: “Today’s announcement of additional funding ensures we have a plan to grow the size of our prison estate for the first time in a decade.

“We will ensure that we have a prison estate big enough to hold those who cause damage and misery in our communities. Hundreds of new prison places are being created.

“It is important that we continue to review and plan for additional capacity, which may be needed given increasing populations, and the introduction of some higher maximum prison sentences, including for assault causing harm and conspiracy to murder, which will have impacts on the amount of time people spend in prison.”

A further €26.2m of the allocation is being allocated to Garda ICT to implement key technology projects including body worn cameras, enhanced cybersecurity, and improved Garda security vetting systems.

Mrs McEntee continued: “I am delighted to have secured additional funding to provide for the roll-out of body worn cameras.

“To me, their rollout is key — key to protecting frontline gardaí, key to assisting them in gathering evidence for prosecutions, and key also to modernising policing in general.

“My priority is to see bodycams on gardaí in Dublin city centre, in Waterford and in Limerick ahead of a full nationwide roll-out, and I am working with the Commissioner to make sure that will become a reality before the Summer.”

Additional funding is being provided to complete existing Garda estate projects such as refurbishment works in Slane, Co Meath and Abbeyleix, Co Laois and development of a new Garda Station in Bailieborough, Co Cavan.

Work is also underway on development of new Garda stations in Macroom, Co Cork, Clonmel, Co Tipperary and Portlaoise, Co Laois, with construction expected to start on these projects later this year.

Funding is also being provided to An Garda Síochána which could be used to purchase up to 15 additional electric vehicles and two public order vehicles in 2024.

In addition to the ongoing support for the construction of the new family law courts at Hammond Lane via PPP, funding is being provided to the Courts Service for IT modernisation projects, site acquisitions, capital works and sustainability projects.

The Department is also continuing to implement its IT strategy and additional funding is being provided in 2024-2026 for this together with funding to support the establishment of the new Gambling Regulator and enhancement of Immigration Service IT systems.

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