After almost fifty years Spike Island off the Cork coast is to reopen as a prison.

Twelve families of forty seven people live on Spike Island in Cork harbour. However, due to their attachment to the Department of Defence, they would not speak to RTÉ News about the latest developments. It appears that the families are not entirely happy about what is happening on Spike Island.

Spike Island, the Alcatraz of Cork Harbour

What is more, RTÉ News has been forbidden by the Departments of Justice and Defence from setting foot on the island.

With the army and the navy now having to leave Spike Island, the families do not know what will happen to them.

Some women seem prepared to stay. Others were worried about being left close to a jail for two hundred criminals.

As discussions between the government departments and the families continue, work is being carried out to prepare the island for the arrival of new inmates.

Eighty four year old John L O'Sullivan gives his memories of being a prisoner on Spike Island in 1921. 

Spike was a natural prison.

The diamond shaped fortress is surrounded by a deep moat about eighteen feet wide.  Some reports say that the two hundred criminals due to arrive on the island may find themselves painting their own cells.

Since the closure of the prison in 1938, the island has been used by the navy for training and by the army as a detention centre for soldiers who broke military law. The Department of Justice will now take over control of the entire island from the Department of Defence.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 March 1985. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.