15 prisoners still at large after 293 abscond from jail
MORE than 290 prisoners have absconded from the country's jails over the past six years -with 15 still at large.
The latest figures show 11 prisoners left the Irish Prison Service last year before the end of their prison terms.
However, this is a stark fall-off on the 112 that absconded in 2010 and the further 86 that unlawfully made away in 2011.
The figures show that 63 absconded in 2012 with the numbers plummeting in 2013 to 18.
The figures for 2015 show that three have absconded to date with all three still at large.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that out of the 293 prisoners who have absconded in the past six-years there are 15 remaining at large.
The figures supplied to Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkin show seven remain at large since 2010; one since 2011; two since 2012 and two more who absconded in 2014 remain at large.
The minister said gardaí are informed when prisoners abscond and they have the power to arrest and return such persons to prison.
"Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame," Ms Fitzgerald said.
She said in October 2012, the Director General of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) established a project team to examine how the IPS might reduce the number of prisoners who are unlawfully at large from custody.
"The project team has worked closely with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Protection and its work has led to the re-committal of a number of prisoners who had absconded from custody. This project is ongoing," she said.
Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that the latest figures show that there were 504 prisoners - around 11.4pc of the prison population - on temporary release across the prison system.
This included 133 prisoners who were serving less than three months solely for the non-payment of a Court ordered fine, the figures delivered to Fianna Fáil's Niall Collins in a written Dáil response showed.
It also included 178 prisoners who were on structured temporary release programmes such as the Community Return Programme.