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Minister McEntee to officially open Limerick Female Prison and publish the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2022 today

Minister McEntee to officially open Limerick Female Prison and publish the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2022 today

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, will today officially open the state-of-the-art Limerick Female Prison, marking a significant development in Ireland’s justice system.

The Limerick Female Prison has accommodation for a minimum of 50 female prisoners. It will increase capacity across the prison estate, as well as providing an environment that promotes rehabilitation, helps reduce reoffending and helps to build stronger, safer communities.

Designed with a focus on rehabilitation, the Limerick Female Prison aims to offer a range of educational, vocational, and therapeutic programs to equip inmates with the necessary tools for a law-abiding life after their release.

These initiatives include educational courses, vocational training, mental health support, addiction counselling, and access to healthcare services.

The accommodation comprises of a mixture bedroom units, some apartment style units and a mother and baby unit, all with individual en-suites.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD said;

“The opening of Limerick Female Prison marks an important step forward in increasing capacity across the prison estate and helping us build stronger, safer communities.

“These additional spaces are necessary to ensure that we have the sufficient space and facilities to support those committed to serve a custodial sentence in an environment that is safe and has the space and capacity to focus on rehabilitation.

“They also reflect our commitment to rehabilitating prisoners, reduce re-offending and put them on a path to leading law abiding lives.

“This modern facility reflects our determination to provide an environment that enables prisoners to address the underlying causes of their offending behaviours and helps them reintegrate successfully into society".

In addition the opening of Limerick Female Prison today, over 200 spaces were provided across the prison estate in the last year, with an additional 96 spaces provided with the reopening of the Training Unit in Mountjoy, an additional 90 cell spaces with the opening of new male accommodation in Limerick.

Minister McEntee also intends to prioritise 4 additional short-term capital projects at Castlerea, Cloverhill, the Midlands and Mountjoy that could provide accommodation for a minimum of 620 additional people over the next 5 years.

The Minister is engaging with the Minister for Public Expenditure with a view to progressing an agreed schedule of capital builds.

Budget 2024 provided an increase of €27 million in the Irish Prisons Service budget, including an extra €12.6m in pay to fund public sector pay increases and additional staff to cope with increasing prisoner numbers and services to prisoners.

The new staff provided for in this increased allocation will include extra staff to assist with a Rapid Prison Building Unit to drive the Government’s intention to provide of over 620 new prisoner spaces over the next 5 years.

In addition, the Department of Justice and the IPS continue to work together to identify short, medium and longer term proposals to help manage capacity.

Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Caron McCaffrey said,

“I am delighted to announce the official opening of the new Limerick Female Prison. I want to take this opportunity to commend all the staff who worked on this development but also ongoing the modernisation of the Irish Prison Service estate. I feel a huge sense of pride and this new prison will equip women who come into custody with the necessary tools to lead law-abiding lives after their release.”

The opening of Limerick Female Prison signifies Ireland's dedication to transforming its prison system into one that prioritises rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of reoffending and contributing positively to communities. The facility aligns with international best practices.

It is also essential that the prison estate is modern and fit for purpose and has the capacity to accommodate those committed to prison by the courts both now and into the future. The new Limerick Female Prison builds on the works that have been completed across the prison estate over the last number of years.

On publication of the Prison Service Annual Report 2022 Minister McEntee noted the transformational work done by Prisons throughout 2022 which is particularly noteworthy in the Annual Report.

Minister McEntee said:

“The Prison Service’s commitment to comprehensive care is evident throughout their 2022 Annual Report.

“Particularly impressive is the way in which the Prison Service have built upon their experiences throughout the pandemic and used this to drive improvements in services.

“Improvements that include the continued use of virtual visits and electronic money transfers, initially established to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, the use of tablets to deliver education, in-cell telephony, and psychology services in cell.”

The Director General added:

“I am proud to present our 2022 annual report, which provides a comprehensive overview of our commitment to provide safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities. This report highlights the efforts of our dedicated staff and their unwavering commitment to upholding the principles of justice and facilitating positive change within our prison system. This report serves as a testament to our ongoing dedication and pursuit of excellence in the management of those in our custody. We appreciate the continued support and collaboration of our stakeholders, and we look forward to building upon these achievements in the years to come."


Notes for Editors


Limerick Prison was built in 1821 making it the oldest prison is the Irish Prison estate. Female prisoners were accommodated on E wing in the main Prison. Limerick Prison is a closed, medium security prison for adult males and females. It is the committal prison for males from counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary and for females for all six Munster counties.

New Female Prison

• The design of the new facility for female prisoners is based on the principle of rehabilitation and normalisation reflecting contemporary design standards.

• The Female Prison provides accommodation for 56 prisoners, the accommodation comprises of a mixture bedroom units, some apartment style units and a mother and baby unit, all with individual en-suites.

• The accommodation is based around an external landscaped courtyard setting in keeping with the design principles of creating a safe therapeutic space and supportive regime.

• The women accommodated in this new facility have full access to all supports and services required while in custody. The needs of the female prisoner’s health and wellbeing will be addressed with the inclusion of the healthcare suite with dentistry, medical assessment and consultation rooms.

• A work training and education suite with a mixture of classrooms and workshops are also available. Educational services are provided in partnership with a range of educational agencies including the Educational Training Boards, Public Library Services, the Open University and the Arts Council.

• The facility also provides a multi flexible visits regime to facilitate the provision of a variety of In-Reach services such as mental health services and addiction counselling. A prisoner canteen and gymnasium is also included in the new facility.

• The building has been constructed with careful consideration of the environment with regard to carbon emissions and energy efficiency and has achieved a rating of “Very Good” under the BREEAM rating scale.