Castlerea Prison

  • Hundreds of prisoners are being forced to sleep on the floor of jails because of accomodation shortages.

    New figures from the Irish Times show 572 people - 404 men and 168 women - had to sleep on mattresses on the floor at Limerick prison in July.

    The number was 674 at Midlands Prison in Portlaoise and 119 in Cork.

    The Irish Penal Reform Trust says the scale of the problem is "unacceptable" and a clear breach of human rights.

    The monthly total of prisoners sleeping on floors in Castlerea Prison in July was 115 - an average of four per night.


    Deirdre Malone, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, said the scale of the problem is “entirely unacceptable, and in clear contravention of basic human rights norms, including the European Prison Rules”.

    She said this should not be happening in 21st century Ireland.

    Ms Malone said overcrowding decreases the chance of meaningful rehabilitation, increases tensions and makes prisons less safe for prisoners and staff.


  • There was a 12 per cent increase in assaults on prison officers last year.

    There were 123 assaults on staff in jails across the country - up from 110 in 2018.

    The highest amount was in the Dochas women's prison in Dublin, at 23.

    At Castlerea prison, there were 12 assaults on prison officers last year - the same number as the previous year.

    Meanwhile, there were 85 prisoner -on-prisoner assaults in Castlerea Prison in 2019 - up from 76 the previous year.



  • The number of serious complaints made by prisoners in Castlerea Prison increased by 60% last year.

    According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, prisoners in Castlerea made 15 serious complaints in 2018 - up from 9 in 2017.

    The data shows no category A complaint has been made by inmates in Castlerea so far this year.

    Nationally, the number of serious complaints from prisoners increased from 70 in 2017 to 80 last year, while 42 complaints were lodged in the first seven months of this year, including allegations of assaults and sexual and racial abuse.

    But since the beginning of 2017, only 16 complaints have been upheld or partly upheld.

    Gabriel Keaveny, assistant general-secretary of the Prison Officers Association, says there's a serious problem with false allegations, and vexatious complaints should be punished....

  • Nearly 400 litres of home-made alcohol was seized in Irish prisons last year.

    Mountjoy prison in Dublin was the worst offender.

    According to freedom of information figures, 395.5 litres of homemade alcohol - or hooch - were seized in Ireland's 12 prisons in 2019.

    It includes seizures made across the jails' estates and other sources, such as security nets and visitors.

    More than a third of the alcohol was recovered from Mountjoy Prison - at 149 litres.

    Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon is the next worst, at 72 litres.

    Almost 100 litres of alcohol was seized from two prisons in Co Laois - Portlaoise and Midlands Prisons.

    The Dochas women's prison in Dublin was the only jail in the country that had no alcohol seizures last year.

  • More than 1,500 weapons and mobile phones were seized in Irish prisons last year - including 80 weapons at Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon.

    The Irish Prison Service says 540 weapons were seized in 12 jails across the state in 2019.

    The highest amount was in Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, at 132, five more than in Wheatfield Prison in Dublin.

    Castlerea Prison in Roscommon was next highest, at 80.

    However, the total number of weapons seized in the 12 jails was down 19 per cent on the year before, when 664 were recovered.

    But the number of mobile phones seized in 2019 rose marginally compared to the year before.

    There were 964 phones taken from inmates  - 309 of these at Wheatfield Prison.


  • A Sligo man, who was accused of conveying illegal drugs into Castlerea Prison, has been found not guilty at the circuit court.

    Judge Francis Comerford directed the jury to find 32-year-old John Kennedy, Castleburn, Ballymote not guilty to a charge that between April 9 and 10 2015, he conveyed PVP a synthetic drug into Castlerea prison.

    The direction was made after a submission from the defence during legal argument in the absence of the jury.

    The judge also directed the jury to find the defendant not guilty of a charge of unlawful possession of the drug at Ballisodare Post Office on April 9 2015.

    The defendant had pleaded not guilty to both charges before a jury in a trial that lasted almost three weeks at Sligo Circuit Court.

  • It's emerged that the chaplain at Castlerea Prison has been denied entry to the prison, due to his beard.

    Deacon Seamus Talbot - who's a part-time chaplain - refused to shave his beard which he has worn for years, while the prison governor ordered that anyone accessing Castlerea Prison must be clean-shaven. The order was issued as part of a health and safety review around prison conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The Irish Examiner reports that the prison has been without a chaplain since early December because of the stand-off.

    Deacon Talbot, who was ordained a deacon for the Elphin diocese in 2012, took up duty as prison chaplain in early November.

    A spokesperson the Irish Prison Service has told Midwest News that the Prison Service has a national policy that states all prison-based staff must be clean-shaven when reporting for duty - this is to ensure the effectiveness of face-masks which are required to be worn.

    The spokesperson said this is just one of a wide range of measures introduced to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.

    All staff are required to be clean-shaven when attending for duty in prison locations.

    The statement concludes that " a chaplain has recently been appointed to Castlerea Prison, and the service to prisoners continues to be provided, along with all other services".

  • The Minister for Justice has praised the work of prison staff and prisoners in combating the threat of coronavirus.

    While launching the 2019 annual report of the Irish Prison Service, Minister Charlie Flanagan praised the efforts of prison staff, management, prisoners and volunteers  - as no prisoner in this country has been infected with Covid-19 to date, and the Irish Prison Service has been internationally recognised for its work in controlling the spread of the virus.

    Minister Flanagan said physical visits to prisons will be reintroduced as soon as it's safe to do so.

    The annual report shows the number of people committed to prison under sentence last year increased by over 10%, with a 5% increase in the number of prisoners held on remand.

    The capacity of Castlerea Prison at the end of last year was 340, and the report shows the daily average number in custody in 2019 was 306, with an average of 62 prisoners on remand or awaiting trial.


  • The Irish Prison Service has confirmed to Midwest News that a prisoner from Castlerea Prison, who was attending the emergency department of Mayo University Hospital yesterday, escaped from custody while at the hospital.

    A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told Midwest News this afternoon that they could confirm a male prisoner had escaped and that the Gardai have been notified and they are still actively seeking his return to custody.

  • A man in his 40s has been charged in connection with the discovery of a drone and drugs in a car next to Castlerea prison in Co. Roscommon yesterday morning.  

    Garda found two mobiles, a smart watch, around 440 tablets and cannabis herb along with a drone which was in the process of being set up, when they stopped and search a car yesterday morning.

    The Governor of Castlerea Prison said in a statement yesterday evening that the prison works closely with Gardai, and welcomes their invention and continued support in assisting the prevention of contraband entering the prison.

    A man and a woman were arrested, the woman in her 40s has since been released without charge while the man is due to appear before Castlerea District Court on May 26th.


  • Over 300 pints of homemade alcohol were seized at Castlerea Prison last year - despite efforts to clamp down on contraband.

    According to the Irish Examiner, prison officers made more than 1,100 drug seizures in Irish prisons in 2018, along with seizures of mobile phones and weapons.

    During searches, prison officers also seized over 750 pints of homemade alcohol, known as hooch.

    The largest quantity of over 300 pints was confiscated at Castlerea Prison, with 107 pints seized in Cork Prison and 192 pints in Mountjoy.

    The Irish Prison Service says preventing the access of contraband into prisons remains a high priority for them.






  • Plans are progressing to build an equine unit at Castlerea Prison, which will allow prisoners to work with horses.

    It's hoped the stable unit may open next Spring, according to Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation and a former blood stock agent, who has raised over €100,000 euro for the stud facility.

    Mr Irwin came up with the idea after visiting a prison in the United States, says it's been proven that the rate of reoffending drops significantly among prisoners who learn about the care and management of horses.

    The Irish Prison Service is supporting the project, which would be the first of its kind in Europe, and surveyors will look at possible sites within the prison grounds next week.

    Jonathan Irwin told Midwest News this lunchtime that this project has been a dream of his for the past 30 years, and he hopes it will open next Spring.

  • Prison officers were injured 137 times last year while trying to restrain an inmate.

    That's up from 91 similar incidents in 2017, according to the Irish Examiner.

    "Restraint intervention" cover situations where a prisoner is not complying - including when they're assaulting another inmate - and prison officers are injured trying to restrain them.

    Of the 137 such incidents last year, 11 were recorded in Castlerea Prison.

    These are in addition to 110 direct assaults on staff by prisoners last year.

    The annual figures have been rising steadily since 2015.

    Mountjoy and Cork prisons had the highest number of assaults on staff by prisoners.



  • Family visits will resume in prisons next month after being suspended since March, due to Covid-19.

    From July 20th, prisoners at Castlerea Prison and other prisons across the country will be allowed one 15-minute visit from one person every two weeks.

    And from August 17th, two people will be allowed visit inmates every fortnight, for the same period of time.

    All visitors will have to wear face-coverings, and will be behind Perspex screens.

  • Searches are continuing in Mayo for a prisoner who escaped from a hospital over the weekend.

    The man, who was on remand at Castlerea prison, is understood to have escaped from Mayo University hospital on Saturday morning after being brought to the facility for treatment.

    The 34-year-old, who is described as having brown hair and an athletic build, escaped from the hospital on foot and searches are currently ongoing.

    The Irish Prison Service confirmed to Midwest News this evening that the prisoner still remains at large.

    Anyone who may have seen the man, or know of his whereabouts, is asked to contact their local Garda station.

  • A man and woman were arrested in Castlerea this morning as Gardai seized controlled drugs, a drone and a number of other items.

    At about 11am this morning, Gardai stopped and searched a car at Harristown -adjacent to Castlerea Prison.

    During the course of the search, two mobile phones, a watch phone, about 440 tablets and cannabis herb were recovered, along with a drone which was in the process of being set up.

    The 46-year old man and 45 year old woman were arrested at the scene and are being detained at Castlerea Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

    The Governor of Castlerea Prison said in a statement this evening that the prison works closely with Gardai, and welcomes their invention and continued support in assisting the prevention of contraband entering the prison.