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Striploin steaks, Coke Zero and red Barry's Tea 'only' - subversive prisoners draw up shopping lists

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Prison (stock photo)

Prison (stock photo)

Portlaoise Prison stock

Portlaoise Prison stock

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Prison (stock photo)

Striploin steaks with pepper sauce, Coke Zero instead of regular Coke and red Barry's Tea "only" ahead of any other brand were among the special items ordered by subversive prisoners at the country's maximum security jail.

Under special arrangements for jailed republicans at Portlaoise Prison, inmates can order in any food and drink they like from local shops apart from alcohol.

Order sheets, obtained under a Freedom of Information application, detail how they enjoy regular feasts at the jail, although the bills must be paid by the prisoners themselves.

One shopping list from last October looked for no fewer than 28 striploin steaks, which were on special offer for €6 each in a local butcher.

Prison officers were advised other types of steak would do if they were not available - but "not sirloin".

The inmate responsible for that order is currently serving a seven-year sentence for possession of a sawn-off shotgun in 2015.

Also listed on the shopping list were seven bags of onion rings, three nets of onions, seven punnets of mushrooms and 30 cans of Coke.

The prisoners also planned to cook up some cake for dessert, seeking two bags of brown sugar, two blocks of butter, two bottles of cream and 10 large vanilla ice creams.

They also looked for two large bags of Maltesers, or Wispas if they weren't available, four packs of Oreos and four Dairy Milk bars.

The shopping bill came to €273.57, according to the records, and was part of several thousand euro spent over the course of three months late last year.

Prison officers were also tasked with buying Gillette disposable razors but only if they were still on "special".

On the same order sheet from October, the prisoners also asked for two multi-packs of popcorn, two packs of Haribo "fun-size" sweets and four tubes of Pringles.

The sweet-toothed prisoners also ordered 12 selection boxes in November along with three boxes of crackers as they readied themselves for Christmas.

Despite their taste for treats, the subversives also showed they were conscious of their calorie counts. On a number of order sheets they specified Coke Zero "if possible".

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: "I can confirm that subversive prisoners in Portlaoise Prison have a somewhat different regime to other prisoners, due to historical and political reasons.

"The facility to purchase goods over and above what is available in the tuck shop is not a new concession and has been available to subversive prisoners in Portlaoise since 1973."

According to the most recent figures, there are 236 prisoners in custody at Portlaoise.

Of those, 34 are housed on E Block, which has been used as a place of detention for paramilitary prisoners for decades.

Irish Independent