Figures are on the rise

The number of babies born to women behind bars is the highest its been in recent years.

4 babies were born to women serving time in Mountjoy last year, up from 3 in 2016 and none in 2015.

In total 17 babies have been born to women in custody between 2010 and the end of last year.

The figures were provided to Independent TD Clare Daly by the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

A spokesperson for the Irish Prison service says there is a considerable level of support at the Dochas centre for pregnant women and new mothers.

Each mother and child are given their own en-suite room, a 24 nursing service is available along with daily access to a prison doctor.

Babies are allowed to stay with their mothers in the Dochas centre until they are 12 months old to allow for early bonding but after that period they have to leave the jail.