A BIG increase in the number of prisoners allowed out on Christmas parole has been sanctioned as part of a new system of incentives for inmates who keep the rules behind bars.
A total of 226 offenders are being set free on temporary release for periods ranging from a few hours, accompanied by a responsible person, up to seven nights.
This figure represents about 4pc of the overall prisoner population and is up by 41pc on last year's total of 160, while only 134 were released in 2010.
The group includes Sean Courtney, who is completing a life sentence for the murder of Dublin woman Patricia O'Toole. He was convicted in January 1993 and is currently based at the open centre at Loughan House in Blacklion, Co Cavan.
But there is no parole for other high-profile killers, including Catherine Nevin; the so-called Scissors Sisters, Linda and Charlotte Mulhall; Eamon Lillis; Joe O'Reilly; and Brian Kearney.