The Curragh, where illegal dumping is a problem. Could prisoners be the answer?
Prisoners might be picking litter and plucking thistles on the Curragh, if proposals by one local county councillor are taken on board.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Mark Lynch proposed a motion recently Newbridge-Kildare Municipal District meeting that members write to the Director General of the Irish Prison Service, and the Minister for Justice, to make available prisoners to clean up the plains.
He specified that they should be low-level prisoners or those near the end of a minor sentence.
He also wants the task to be considered by the Probation Service as suitable for community service sentences.
“It might be a little bit ‘out there’, but dumping on the Curragh plains is a huge issue,” said Cllr Lynch.
He added that it would be important the offenders concerned would be “low-level criminals” and would be fully supervised.
“It would be a good incentive for them and good to get the plains cleaned on a regular basis,” he said.
Cllr Joanne Pender opposed the motion, asking Cllr Lynch how he could oppose schemes such as JobBridge and Gateway, and yet support this idea.
“This, to me, is forced free labour,” she said, but added that if it was "about community service it would be a different matter.”
Cllr Lynch said there was no comparison between what he was proposing and schemes such as JobBridge, and it would be a good initiative to reintegrate people in jail back into society.
He added that, as there is no funding in place for a Curragh clean-up programme, such a scheme would not force anyone out of work.
The councillors voted to write to the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service to see if any headway could be made with the idea.