Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #113

10th February 2022

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IPRT Ebulletin #113

Dear members and supporters,

I am pleased to be writing to you to share updates on the progress and successes of IPRT’s work. We were joined by many of you for the launch of Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) earlier this week – thank you for joining us!

This week has seen a big change to the IPRT team. In case you missed our last Ebulletin, or are new to our mailing list, our tireless Executive Director, Fíona, is off on a new adventure! You can read Fíona’s short reflection on her time in IPRT in her intro to our last Ebulletin. Fíona has now officially finished up and our fantastic Deputy Director, Molly Joyce, has taken up the role of Acting Executive Director. If you have any questions about IPRT or our work, you can contact Molly at

As always, feel free to get in touch with any feedback or comments on our work. The best way to get real-time updates on our work is to join us on social media.

All the best,
Communications Officer

Now recruiting: IPRT Executive Director
Are you looking for an opportunity to lead an expert team, dedicated to social justice and human rights? Applications are open for the position of Executive Director. Closing Date: 3pm Friday, 11th of February 2022

The Executive Director will be an integral part of IPRT’s growth and development with responsibility for the overall performance of the organisation, delivering on its strategic objectives and managing its day-to-day operations, under the delegated authority of the Board of Directors. The successful candidate will skilfully convey IPRT’s mission and vision to a wide range of stakeholders and will have a strong understanding of public policy development. They will have the capacity to serve as the national spokesperson for IPRT, as well as demonstrating a real commitment to social justice and human rights reform.

Please email for the full job description, candidate information pack, and application details for this role. Please use the job title Executive Director and name of the organisation, IPRT, as the subject of your email.

The recruitment campaign for the role of Executive Director is being managed exclusively on behalf of the IPRT by non-profit specialist recruitment consultancy CCI Executive Search. Please do not contact IPRT directly about this position.

Round-up: Progress in the Penal System 2021


On Monday, IPRT launched Progress in the Penal System: The need for transparency (2021) (or 'PIPS 2021'), the fifth in a series of annual reports benchmarking progress in Ireland's penal system.

Since 2017, the PIPS project has set out a clear vision for the future of the penal system. From the outset, the overall purpose of PIPS has been to promote and assess progress across a broad range of issues in Ireland’s penal system. The reality is, however, that accessing data that relates to the various standards has often been challenging.

This edition of PIPS reflects on the past five years of monitoring the Irish penal system – the progress made, the areas where there has been little change, and the issues about which we still have a limited understanding due to a lack of data. PIPS 2021 strives to address the lack of and/or deficiencies in data for monitoring progress in the penal system by identifying specific areas of inadequate data and setting realistic data expectations.

Our external contributors at the event included: Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC); Prof Ben Crewe, University of Cambridge (see Prof Crewe's presentation here)Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service; Mark Wilson, Director of the Probation Service; and Prof Ian O’Donnell, UCD. 

If you missed the event, or if you just want a reminder of inputs, you can get everything you need – including a copy of the report and a recording of the event – on our website.

IPRT Submissions

In between preparing for changes in the IPRT team and the launch of our flagship PIPS annual report, we have been busy making submissions to international and national processes.
  • IPRT Submission to the Joint Committee on Justice on Anti-Social Behaviour (21 Jan 2022)
    IPRT was invited by the Joint Committee on Justice to make a written submission on the topic of 'Anti-Social Behaviour' (ASB). In the submission, we highlight strategies that don’t work to deter ASB, as well as pointing to evidence on what has been shown to work, including approaches that focus on addressing the underlying causes of ASB.
    On the back of our submission, IPRT has been invited to appear before the Joint Committee on Tues 22nd Feb 2022. We’ll be sharing the link to watch the hearing on our social media accounts when we have it – follow us for more.
  • IPRT Submission on the General Scheme of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2021 (21 Jan 2022)
    IPRT's brief submission on the general scheme of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2021 aims to highlight the needs of people with disabilities in prison and engaged with forensic mental health services in Ireland.
  • IPRT Submission to the 70th Pre-Sessional Working Group of the CESCR (7 Jan 2022)
    This is IPRT’s first submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The submission makes the overarching point that Ireland is over-reliant on imprisonment as a response to social issues and socio-economic disadvantage.

IPRT in the News

Since we last wrote to you, we have appeared in media dispelling misunderstandings about mandatory sentencing and expressing concern about the ongoing limitations on in-person prison visits. However, here are some of the highlights from the media discussion around penal reform in Ireland from this week alone:

Project update: Race and Ethnicity in the Irish Penal System (working title)

Researchers from the Department of Law at Maynooth University have finished their commissioned research as part of IPRT’s ‘Access to Rights and Justice’ project, which aims to empower and promote access to rights and access to justice for migrants, foreign national prisoners, and ethnic minorities in the penal system. We are getting the report ready to share with you and will be in touch with all of our supporters in the coming weeks with more details of the report launch. Watch this space!

Sector News

  • Progress on sentencing guidelines
    The Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee (SGIC) has published the First Interim Report prepared by the University of Strathclyde as part of a project entitled “Assessing Methodological Approaches to Sentencing Data Collection & Analysis”. This first report explores the statistical information necessary to support guideline construction and guideline monitoring. We have summarised some of the key findings here.
  • ACJRD seminar
    ACJRD will be hosting "Effecting Change: Learning from the experience of Oberstown" on Thursday 3rd March, 2pm – 3.30pm. More details on the ACJRD website.

Add your voice - become a Friend or Member

IPRT relies on a network of committed supporters who share our vision for change. By becoming a Friend or Member of IPRT, you add your voice to our campaign for a more humane and equitable penal system.

To find out more about supporting our work, please visit our Friends or Membership pages.


IPRT relies on donations from charitable trusts, individual donations and membership subscriptions to cover operational costs. We have also received funding from donor-advised funds and project funds managed by the Community Foundation for Ireland and project funding from the Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
IPRT receives core funding from:


The Scheme to Support National Organisations is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development.

February 2022
January  March

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Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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