875 pints of 'hooch' seized from Irish jails; Officers find hauls of homemade booze.
Byline: DARRAGH MCDONAGH
NEARLY 875 pints of homemade alcohol or "hooch" was seized from prisoners here last year, figures have revealed.
Inmates make the potent booze using a number of basic ingredients including water, sugar, fruit and bread and hide it in cells until it ferments.
The Irish Prison Service has said extensive efforts are made to reduce the flow of contraband in jail and this has resulted in a reduction of illicit items seized in recent years.
A spokesman added: "A range of enhanced measures including the establishment of a dedicated group of staff was introduced in May 2008 with the aim of reducing the supply of contraband into our prisons.
This included the introduction of security screening areas in all closed prisons, the introduction of a canine unit, increased searching of cells and their occupants and the installation of nets over exercise yards."
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show authorities have taken almost 6,500 pints of hooch from inmates throughout the prison network over the past four years.
In 2016, the largest quantity of the illegal brew was seized at Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon, where the equivalent of 226 pints was confiscated by warders. A total of 200 pints were seized at Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, where detainees include twisted murderer Graham Dwyer and convicted serial killer Mark Nash.
At Cork jail, more than 160 pints of hooch were discovered, while a further 116 pints were seized by the authorities at Portlaoise Prison, the State's only maximum-security facility.
No homemade alcohol was found at the Dochas Centre in Dublin, where female offenders are detained.
Similarly, there were no seizures of hooch at St Patrick's Institution, which accommodates 17-year-old convicts. Hooch or "prison wine" can be made from a variety of ingredients including apples, oranges, potatoes and bread, which provides the yeast required for the fermentation process.
A sock can be used to separate the pulp from the liquid and the finished product can be extremely potent depending on the amount of sugar used and the length of time it is left to ferment.
226 pints of hooch were seized at Castlerea Prison last year