FIVE prisoners are still "unlawfully at large" after being given Christmas parole to spend time with their loved ones.
Out of the 176 prisoners granted temporary release to spend the festive season with their families, nine breached the deadline -- but four have since returned. The five still at large face having their names published unless they return.
But none of the missing prisoners are well-known criminals or deemed dangerous.
"Public safety is the overriding concern in terms of temporary release," an Irish Prison Services spokesman said.
All five are now considered "unlawfully at large" and gardai have been informed.
Once they return, a hearing will be held with the governor and they will be given a chance to explain their absence.
Their sentence is placed on hold from the date they go missing. The spokeswoman added: "There are five outstanding, which wouldn't be unusual. We may consider giving out their details at some stage. There are always a few late returners."