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Around Ireland Costly cells

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

It was a prison with no inmates to guard.

But prison officers in the newly built empty jail still collected overtime payments.

The Irish Independent reports that Dublin’s Cloverhill remand center, intended to ease the overcrowding at nearby Mountjoy prison, has had a small number of prisoners since Nov. 15. But the prison officers have been getting overtime since Sept. 11.

The paper reports the officers were also needed as security while experts went through the state-of-the-art prison tackling a checklist of problems.

"The contractor put in troubleshooters who were working day and night and at weekends so we have to maintain people on the site," a spokesman for the Irish Prisons Service said.

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"You have to supervise a complex prison which is 40 percent technology you just can’t abandon the premises. The contractor needed access on a 24-hour basis and staff liaised on that."

Ireland’s Justice Minister John O’Donoghue has been pulled into the outcry over the expensive purpose-built prison. With empty cells costing money, the prison opening has been set back for months because of technical hiccups: from dodgy alarms to sprinklers going off and flooding the cells.

"There was some overtime paid but it was minimal, it was not a colossal amount. Maintaining security and the requirements of the testing procedures involved extra attendance on the part of the staff which necessitated the payment of overtime," the prison spokesman said.

Galway tragedy

It’s been two years, and the Galway family of a murdered female taxi driver are starting to lose hope that her killer will be found.

The family of Eileen Costello-O’Shaughnessy, who was murdered in November 1998 after picking up a fare, have said the investigations seem to have come to nothing, reports the Connacht Tribune.

Galway gardai say while the investigation continues, they are no closer to any clues about who killed the 47-year-old mother of two children.

"It is nearly two years since she was killed and it looks as if all the investigations that have taken place into her death have been in vain," said her brother, Martin Costello told the paper.

O’Shaughnessy had picked up a fare in Galway city the night her battered body was discovered off the Tuam to Galway road. Her taxi was discovered later in the city. Gardai have yet to even determine the motive, which it is believed was not robbery.

"All we are hoping for at the moment is that someone will make a slip at some point, which might give us the break we need," one police inspector said.

Lady luck

Kay Lynch knows a little about luck. She knows can sometimes come in bunches of three.

So the housewife from Kilbarrack in Dublin is taking no chances.

The Northside People reports that during the summer Lynch was one of seven people who won a four-day trip for two to New York as a prize of the "Fame and Fortune" TV game show.

And two weeks ago, she hit it rich a second time. Just as she was due to travel to Shannon for her flight on Concorde to the Big Apple, Lynch’s name was drawn to appear on the "Spin the Wheel" show.

She walked away with exactly £23,750 from that one.

"My head was floating in the clouds," Lynch recalled. "I had heard of the expression ‘on cloud nine’ before but now I really knew what it felt like — I’d never felt like that before."

A mother of 12 children, Lynch had never had an opportunity to travel before. The furthest she had been was one a day trip to France. But that, too, presented a problem — which one of the youngsters to take with her.

"I put all their names into a hat and they had a fair chance to pick — it turned out that my eldest daughter Catherine pulled her name. I think the rest may have been disappointed for themselves but happy for us."

The paper reports that Lynch had come through on a 3 million-to-one chance of winning prizes on both games. Instead of shopping in New York with the $500 prize money, she took more than £20,000.

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