A Bundoran Town Councillor believes prisoners should be allowed to work on community projects in the town.
Independent Cllr. Florence Doherty submitted a motion to the council’s September meeting on the issue. She proposed that the governor of Loughan House, Ethel Gavin, be invited to meet council members to discuss the possibility of Bundoran being included in the prison’s Community Work Programme.
She pointed out that Loughan House in west Cavan is an open, low-security prison and said that the prisoners would have their own tools and equipment, the prison would provide its own security and insurance for the work. “All we need is a job to give them,” she said.
Cllr. Doherty also said the scheme would not displace other workers or volunteers in any way.
Town Clerk Joe McNulty told members there were a number of issues that would have to be addressed before such a scheme could be introduced. He had contacted Brian Somerville of Loughan House, requesting further information but had not yet received a reply.
After the meeting, Cllr. Doherty told the Donegal Democrat: “The Prison Community Return Scheme is where carefully selected prisoners can apply for temporary release with a requirement to do community service work for a set number of weeks. The number of weeks involved is calculated based on the length of sentence remaining.
“Participants are required to do three days a week and the working day is typically 9.30am to 4.30pm.
“The type of work involved is intended to assist the community and is supervised by prison personnel.”
Cllr. Doherty believes the prisoners could work on projects such as cleaning up the Bradog River, the restoration of the Handball Alley and the renovation of the St Louis Convent on Railway Road as a community centre.
“This is a a golden opportunity for the town and it is a win-win situation for everyone concerned, as it will make great savings for the Republic and the present government.”