The Irish Prison Service (IPS) will spend up to €130,000 of taxpayers' money on art supplies for creative inmates, including nearly four tonnes of pottery clay, 4,500 colouring pencils and 315,000 matchsticks.
The prison authority is seeking tenders for art supplies with an estimated cost of up to €90,000 excluding VAT, along with pottery supplies that are expected to cost up to €40,000 excluding VAT.
It says art and craft activities are part of an education programme that "helps people in custody cope with their sentence, achieve personal development, prepare for life after release and establish an appetite and capacity for life-long learning".
Items sought as part of the tender include more than 650 litres of paint, 3,409 paint brushes and 830 erasers. The prison service will also buy 18,252 metres of masking tape and 1.4 metres of glue sticks.
In addition to 315,000 matchsticks for art and crafts, prisoners will also get 45 matchstick modelling kits that allow them how to build a Mississippi riverboat and a bow-top caravan. The modelling kits come with their own matchsticks.
A total of 28 litres of white spirit is also on the shopping list, along with two glue guns, 1,436 metres of double-sided sticky tape and 1,560 gel pens in assorted colours.
"The contracting authority estimates that the expenditure on the goods to be covered by the proposed goods contract may amount to some €80,000 to €90,000 (art supplies) and €30,000 to €40,000 (pottery supplies)," states the tender.
Interested parties have until April 26 to submit a tender for the contract to the central procurement unit in Longford.
The goods will be supplied to 13 prison locations around the country over a period of two years.
Documents state: "The prison service seeks to deliver relevant programmes that cater for holistic needs, ensure broad access and high participation and prioritise those with basic education needs.
"It promotes the principles of adult and community education and supports a multi-disciplinary approach within the prison system."