The construction of a new high security wing for Portlaoise Prison to house some of Ireland's most dangerous criminals is sheduled to get underway at the start of 2019.
In what should be an economic boost for Portlaoise, the Irish Prison Services has confirmed to the Leinster Express that in the meantime work is to start on the refurbishment of the existing facilities.
The statement follows an announcement this week by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald that the prison which is one of the main employers in Laois is set for an overhaul.
The Irish Prison Service outlined the plans in a statement to the Leinster Express.
"The core infrastructural modernisation requirements at Portlaoise Prison are the need to eliminate slopping out and to bring the prison’s existing infrastructure to an acceptable standard including prisoner accommodation.
"The Irish Prison Service have committed capital expenditure in 2017 to Phase 1 of the Portlaoise redevelopment project & this entails a refurbishment of the outdated E Block & the Demolition of the D Wing. These projects will be tendered in the coming months.
"Construction of the Portlaoise New High Security Block is currently scheduled to commence in Quarter 1 of 2019," it said.
The statement adds that as these projects are subject to the tendering process it would be inappropriate to give an indication in relation to costs at this stage as this would be commercially sensitive information which may affect the process.
Portlaoise Prison as part of the Portlaoise Prison Campus, and is the only high-security prison in the State which serves as the committal prison for those sent to custody from the Special Criminal Court & accommodates prisoners linked with subversive crime.
It detains prisoners that pose the greatest security risks within the Irish prison system, and those requiring the most stringent standards of internal and external security and containment.
As well as prisoners requiring enhanced security for a range of reasons, it accommodates prisoners associated with the highest elements of gangland crime, as well as subversive and politically motivated criminals.
The prison service recently began the tender process for the purchase of fleet of new vans for the transportation of prisoners.