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€145k taxpayers' bill for prisoners to watch Sky Sports

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Brendan Rodgers seems to have convinced Liverpool's senior players like Steven Gerrard to buy into his plan to atone for last season's agonising defeat to Chelsea when Gerrard's slip proved costly. Photo credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers seems to have convinced Liverpool's senior players like Steven Gerrard to buy into his plan to atone for last season's agonising defeat to Chelsea when Gerrard's slip proved costly. Photo credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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Niall Collins

Niall Collins

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Brendan Rodgers seems to have convinced Liverpool's senior players like Steven Gerrard to buy into his plan to atone for last season's agonising defeat to Chelsea when Gerrard's slip proved costly. Photo credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It has cost the taxpayer more than €145,000 in the past two years so that prisoners can watch Sky Sports.

New figures provided by the Department of Justice show the Irish Prison Service paid €76,601 last year to multi-channel providers to provide Sky Sports and other channels for inmates.

That bill followed an outlay of €70,108 in 2012 that allowed prisoners to follow the fortunes of their football heroes live on TV.

"Sky Sports is available in some of the common or recreation areas in some prisons," an Irish Prison Service spokesman said.

"Prisoners do not have Sky Sports in their cells, they have access to basic free-to-air channels."

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said yesterday that Sky Sports should not be available to prisoners.

"I don't believe that the taxpayer should be funding Sky Sports for prisoners at a time when medical cards are being withdrawn from people and schools are under-funded," he said.

"However, I have no objection to free-to-air channels for prisoners."

Separate figures show that when prisoners are not watching players and pundits, a large number are at their PlayStation consoles in their cells.

More than a quarter of the prison population have access to PlayStations, with 1,094 inmates out of the total capacity of 4,126 allowed to play video games.

The department says the number of consoles owned by prisoners is 707.

Figures show that the highest concentration of PlayStations is in the Midlands Prison, where 291 prisoners have access to 222 games consoles.

Prisoners at Portlaoise have 76 consoles, with 94 inmates having access to the PlayStations.

At Wheatfield Prison, 97 prisoners own a PlayStation and 129 have access to one.

At Mountjoy, 55 prisoners own a PlayStation while 66 have access.

Only one female prisoner at the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy owns a PlayStation.

"In relation to game consoles, the current practice is that prisoners either pay for their own consoles or they receive them from family or friends," the Prison Service spokesman said.

"PS1 and PS2 consoles are allowed. No PS3 or PS4 are allowed as these can be enabled for internet access.

"All consoles that are brought into the prison by family or friends are checked to ensure that there are no security issues associated with them and that internet access cannot be enabled."

Online Editors