Dundon gang boss costing tax-payer €2,000 a week to imprison; Graham Dwyer over €1,000

Gordon Deegan

It is costing the tax-payer almost €2,000 a week to incarcerate the murderous gang boss, John Dundon (36) along with the dwindling numbers of subversive prisoners at the maximum security Portlaoise prison.

John Dundon.

That is according to new detailed figures released by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request which show that the cost of incarcerating prisoners at the country’s only high-security jail last year increased from €97,124 to €97,492 - a weekly average of €1,874.

The €97,492 cost per prison space at Portlaoise in 2017 is 42% higher than the average annual €68,635 cost of prison spaces across the Irish prison system in 2017.

The figures show that it is also costing the tax-payer over €1,000 per week to incarcerate killer, Graham Dwyer as the average cost per prison space at the Midlands Prison increased to €54,466 last year.

Prisoner 88335, Dwyer received a life sentence for the murder of Elaine O’Hara (36) in April 2015 after a trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Graham Dwyer.

Almost three-quarters of the currently jailed 400 or so sex offenders in Irish jails are jailed at the Midlands prison.

A spokesman for the IPS said that the cost of Portlaoise is always higher as it is the only maximum security prison in the State.

He said: "There are many variables which lead to the fluctuation in the cost of keeping an offender...The IPS is continually seeking to improve the accommodation and services it provides to prisoners."

He said that the number of subversive prisoners at Portlaoise is now 39 - this represents a drop of 34% on the 59 subversive prisoners locked up at Portlaoise six years ago.

Portlaoise prison has an operational capacity of 291 and the latest figures show that there were 229 prisoners incarcerated there in June.

The other ‘high-cost’ prisons last year were Limerick prison at a cost per prison space of €88,840 and Dóchas women’s prison totalled €85,545 per prison space.

Portlaoise Prison.

The IPS spokesman said: “When refurbishment works are ongoing such as those in Limerick and Dóchas, the number of cells available spaces is reduced on a temporary basis and this affects the cost calculation.”

He said: "There are also other factors, like prisoner numbers, staff numbers, cost of food, electricity, oil, gas which also have to be taken into consideration."

The lowest cost per prison space last year was at Loughnan House Open centre at €43,384 and Shelton Abbey Open Centre at €48,808.

The high cost per prison arises from Portlaoise being the State’s only maximum security jail where the Army is on site 365 days a year to deter any prison escapes.

The high costs also arise from prison officers receiving ‘danger money’ or an environmental allowance because of the specific risks posed to prison officer personnel by the prison population at Portlaoise.

The prison service paying for the cost of transporting specially ordered in foods for the Republicans at the prison also contributes to the high costs.

This includes Republicans being able to order in smoked salmon, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Glenisk organic yogurt, Camembert cheese, Magnum ice-cream and Green & Black's chocolate from local shops - the prisoners pay for the food themselves.

The Republican prisoners enjoy a relaxed regime compared to other prisoners across the Irish prison system.

Fixed costs account for approximately 75% of the costs for housing an inmate in Portlaoise and the less prisoners that are in custody the higher the prisoner per space cost it.

John Dundon, 36, is serving life for the murder of Shane Geoghegan, shot dead in a case of mistaken identity in November 2008.

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