The media take a tour of Spike Island has reopened as a civilian prison.

Journalists and members of the media go behind the walls of the former naval base off the coast of Cork.  Recently reopened as a prison there are currently twenty eight inmates being held on Spike Island.

Ageing seventeen to thirty, five prisoners are serving sentences for breaking and entering, three for assault and two for car insurances offences, two on malicious damages charges and two for larceny. Fourteen more prisoners are due to arrive at the prison tomorrow.

Eventually a hundred and ninety six prisoners will be on site.

Journalists were allowed on to the island following initial reluctance by the Department of Justice to allow cameras. Reporters were not allowed interviews with either prisoners or prison officers.

The prisoners are being housed in the former naval village where refurbishment and reconstruction is ongoing. The old barracks is not being used. This is a bone of contention for the navy who are unhappy about being forced off the island.

Within the walls of the old naval training base on Spike Island, Fort Mitchell has wide open spaces. There's no air of confinement here and with what we’ve seen on our unrestricted visit this morning the prisoners have a very good deal.

The conditions for prisoners on the island are quite comfortable and it is said that they eat better on Spike than they might in life on the outside. Families can visit once a week using a free ferry service from Cobh which is provided by the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice says that the development of the prison on Spike Island has been the quickest it has ever done.

There are still twelve families living on the island and opinion about the prison is divided with some wanting to stay and other wanting to leave.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 18 April 1985. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.