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Time is Money €3.1m in 'pocket money' paid to Irish prisoners in 2021

Inmates in Irish prisons also received a further €4.9million in gifts from family and friends.

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Midlands Prison, Portlaoise Picture: Gerry Mooney

Midlands Prison, Portlaoise Picture: Gerry Mooney

Midlands Prison, Portlaoise Picture: Gerry Mooney

The State paid Irish prisoners more than €3 million in allowances last year.

As of July 2021, there are 3,849 people in 13 jails across the country, and each inmate is entitled to a daily payment from the Irish Prison Service to be spent in the prison’s tuck shop.

The standard pay rate is €1.70 per day, but well-behaved prisoners are rewarded with an increase to €2.20 while the allowance is reduced to 95c for bad behaviour.

Inmates can also get earn payments of up to €3.50 a week for working in areas like kitchens, laundries, grounds maintenance, painting, and cleaning under the Approved Working Gratuity Scheme.

Last year, prisoners in Irish jails received a total of almost €3.1m under these schemes.

But retired prison officer John Cuffe says the payments are perfectly reasonable.

“They are appropriate in my opinion - it's a token,” he told Newstalk.

“Quite a lot of prisoners have actually no resources or money - so that few bob works out at about €10 a week.

“[It] allows them to buy a few luxuries - a few extras - to shorten the time, make the time a little bit better for themselves.

“It's not a lot, a child on pocket money would be getting far more than that - it's not going to make them or break them,” he added.

Inmates in Irish prisons also received a further €4.9 million in gifts from family and friends, according to Freedom of Information figures.

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Just under €1m of these gifts were received in the country’s largest jail: Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.

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