Special council meeting on the cards as report recommends transfer of Longford town based Prison headquarters

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

The Inspector of Prisons report says consideration should be given to moving the Irish Prison Service headquarters from Longford.
A new report issued by the Inspector of Irish Prisons has recommended relocating its headquarters to a new location outside of Longford.

A new report issued by the Inspector of Irish Prisons has recommended relocating its headquarters to a new location outside of Longford.

In a hard-hitting review led by Prisons Inspector, Judge Michael Reilly and Professor Andrew Coyle, both men say there are “considerable disadvantages” with the service’s current location.

This, the report found, was to satisfy a more central setting in which to serve its prison network while also making it more practicable for many of its staff.

“Consideration should be given to finding a new location for IPS headquarters which will make it much more accessible to the prisons which it oversees and serves,” the report outlined.

“There are considerable disadvantages in the current location of IPS headquarters in Longford.

“We recommend that consideration should be given to finding a new location for IPS headquarters which will make it much more accessible to the prisons which it oversees and serves.”

The report accepted some “domestic disruption” might be caused for some of its current staff, but claimed a large number still commute on a daily basis from Dublin.

Details of the recommendation is likely to throw more spotlight on the much-derided decentralisation programme which was first unveiled by then Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy in December 2003.

First announced in 2005, around 150 staff moved to its state of the art main offices just off the town’s main Ballinalee road in 2008.

It later transpired the overall cost of its relocation cost in the region of €18m, some €4m more than any other service in the country.

Cllr Mae Sexton, who was largely credited with bringing the Prison Services to Longford during her time as a Progressive Democrats TD, lashed out at the report.

She said as well as calling on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to clarify its findings, she implored her fellow 17 locally elected representatives to speak out on the proposal.

“It is unthinkable and it is very clear when you read the report in its entireity that they (Irish Prisons Service) have already tried in a piecemeal fashion to dismantle it by relocating a portion (of headquarters) to beside Mountjoy Prison,” she stormed.

Cllr Sexton pledged to contact Cathaoirleach, Cllr Gerry Warnock this morning with a view to holding a special council meeting over the coming days.

“It’s outrageous and I am literally going ballistic over it. This Government brought absolutely nothing to Longford and if they think we are going to sit idly by and let this happen, they have got another thing coming.”