Sweet success as profits soar at prison tuck shop
It's a million-euro-a-year business – and counts murderers and feared criminals among its clientiele.
The tuck shop at over-crowded Mountjoy Prison in Dublin has a monopoly on the trade of cigarettes, newspapers and sweets for the 540-strong prison population.
The shop's finances, which would be envy of retailers across the country, show that last year profits increased by 17pc from €106,375 to €124,682.
This followed revenues at the shop dipping by 7pc from €1.315m to €1.225m in the 12 months to the end of December.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said the tuck shop provides "a vital role in the operation of a prison, providing prisoners with the only means to obtain goods such as toiletries, cigarettes, tea bags, biscuits and other items".
Prisoners at Mountjoy and across the Irish prison system receive weekly gratuities from the Prison Service ranging from €6.65 to €15.40, and they can also receive money from relatives to spend at the tuck shop.
The spokesman said that no money exchanges hands between the prison officer manning the hatch at the tuck shop at Mountjoy and prisoners, with all transactions completed on account.
Tuck-shop privileges can be withdrawn by prison authorities if there is a breach of discipline.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that the profits generated from tuck shop "are used to support prisoners through the prisoner assist programme fund".