The €248,000 cost of keeping killer Dundon brothers in jail
The average cost of jailing the three murderous Dundon brothers and other dangerous criminals at the State's only high-security prison shot up last year.
New figures released by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) confirm that it is costing the taxpayer €1,818 per week to jail each prisoner at Portlaoise prison - up from the €1,675 per prisoner cost in 2012.
Overall the IPS says that the cost per prison space at Portlaoise last year increased by 8.5pc from €87,108 to €94,575.
As a result, the combined costs to the taxpayer of jailing convicted murderers John, Wayne and Dessie Dundon each week added up to €5,456 or €283,725 a year.
All three are housed in the A5 unit at Portlaoise and are serving life sentences for murder. Most recently gang boss Wayne Dundon (36) was convicted of the murder of Limerick businessman, Roy Collins.
The 35-year-old father-of-two was shot dead as he worked in the family business in Limerick on April 9, 2009.
John Dundon (31) is serving life for the murder of Shane Geoghegan, shot dead in a case of mistaken identity in November 2008. Dessie Dundon (30) is serving life for the murder of rival crime boss Kieran Keane in January 2002.
In total, it cost €27.5m to run Portlaoise last year. The jail has been repeatedly in the headlines, in particular when one of its notorious inmates, drug dealer John Gilligan, was released.
The prison also houses dissident republicans, including the alleged leader of the Real IRA, Michael McKevitt.
The cost of jailing the country's most dangerous criminals at Portlaoise is far in excess of the average annual cost of funding the state's 4,426 prison spaces, which is costed at €65,542 each.
The IPS states that the average cost of a prison space last year represents "a very small increase on the 2012 cost of €65,404".
A chief factor behind the rise in the cost of housing the State's most dangerous prisoners at Portlaoise is the number of prison spaces going down from 316 in 2012 to 291 last year with overall fixed costs not dropping.
The average cost relates to the cost of operating the prisons and doesn't factor in capital expenditure.
A breakdown of the costs of housing prisoners at Portlaoise show that fixed costs, mainly prisoner officers' pay, came to €66,981 per prisoner with non-custodial costs, including prisoner escorts, totalling €15,129 per prisoner.
Prisoner-related costs including catering, healthcare, prisoner gratuities, clothing, bedding, recreational facilities, laundry and drug detection totalled €6,177 per prisoner, while other variable costs totalled €6,287.
At the country's two open prisons at, Shelton Abbey and Loughan House, the cost per prisoner last year increased from €41,968 to €44,133.
The figures show that the average cost of accommodating prisoners in closed prisons that include the likes of Mountjoy, Limerick and Cork prisons last year decreased from €65,218 to €64,771.
The IPS reported that yesterday the Irish prison system was at 92pc capacity with 3,858 prisoners behind bars.