Friday, January 11, 2013

Razor wire to blame for Irish prisons spending €40,000 a year on footballs

Razor wire security is to blame for the average 40,000 euros a year being spent on footballs for Irish prisoners. The information was in government documents, under the Freedom of Information Act. The Irish Prison Service has spent almost 130,000 euros (£105,906) replacing footballs for prisoners over the last three years. Independent TD Denis Naughten called it "an astronomical sum".

He raised the issue in a parliamentary question last year, saying there were "serious questions to be asked". Cloverhill, Cork and Limerick prisons are among the biggest football buyers. Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter said in July that a total of 35,851 euros had been spent on footballs in 2010 with Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin accounting for more than a third of the spend at 12,431 euros.

The FoI documents said there were five exercise yards in Cloverhill and the "position of razor wire leads to a couple of balls being destroyed in each yard per day". A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said that exercise was "incredibly important" for prisoners and that the footballs were for use by more than 4,000 prisoners using 60 prison yards across the Republic of Ireland. "The costs seem high but there are a number of reasons for that," he said.

"The footballs are light to minimise potential injuries to staff and prisoners. This means they do tend to get destroyed. The bottom line is that we cannot put netting underneath the wire. Also netting a yard has significant cost implications. It costs about 175,000 euros and that is without support structures - the price could go up to 250,000 euros." The spokesman said razor wire had to be in place around prison yards.

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