Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #71

17th May 2013

In this edition:

  1. Introduction
  2. IPRT Membership: We need YOU!
  3. IPRT Event: 'Breaking the Record - Moving On'
  4. IPRT Recruitment: Research & Policy Officer (Maternity Leave)
  5. Latest Reports
  6. IPRT in the News
  7. Upcoming Events
  8. Contact

View Mailchimp version here.

1. Introduction

Welcome to the all new IPRT ebulletin! 

It has been some time since we last issued an ebulletin, but we are delighted to be back!

As you can see from the recent report of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Penal Reform, we are moving closer to widespread political agreement on a programme for penal reform, based on reducing the numbers in our prisons. We are continuing to campaign and lobby on some of the key issues that are holding up reform within the system – including the ongoing scandal of imprisonment for fine default, the persistent problems with inhuman conditions in parts of the prison system, and the slow pace of change on prison accountability.

At the same time, since the beginning of 2013 our attention has necessarily shifted to the sustainability of the organisation into the future. To this end, we have been working behind the scenes on ways to demonstrate IPRT's efficiency and effectiveness to current members and donors, while researching new grant funding streams. In uncertain times, we are sure of one thing: that IPRT needs the support of our members. Find out more here.

Upcoming events include Breaking the Record - Moving On, a seminar on 12th June 2013 which will focus on criminal records, spent convictions and Garda vetting. Full details below.

Other events include the IPRT AGM and Annual Lecture, which will take place in July 2013. We can't reveal much until details are finalised, but it promises to be a very exciting event focusing on a critical issue in prisons. At the AGM, we will also be sharing the findings of an external evaluation of the work of IPRT. Full details will be circulated to all IPRT members shortly.

In February 2013, we thanked intern Lianne Meagher-Reddy for all her hard work over the previous 5 months - Lianne began work with the Law Reform Commission in March - and we welcomed interns Tríona Lenihan and Sinéad Mercier to the team.

In April 2013, IPRT Executive Director Liam Herrick was appointed as one of fourteen members designate of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

Finally, we would also like to wish IPRT Research & Policy Officer Jane Mulcahy the very best of luck as she begins maternity leave. Most recently, Jane has been working on papers focusing on remand and bail reform, and on the treatment of women offenders, which we look forward to publishing shortly.

As ever, we welcome your feedback and suggestions - if you would like to share your thoughts, please get in touch.

2. ~ We need YOU ~

Be part of something effective

Following one of the most active years in IPRT's 19-year history, in 2013, some of our attention has necessarily shifted to the longer-term sustainability of the organisation.

In 2008, IPRT sought and was granted core funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. This allowed the organisation to increase from a staff of one to four, thus expanding exponentially our ability to positively impact upon the penal policy vacuum that existed in Ireland.

We strongly believe that our effectiveness over the past 4 years is demonstrated by real achievement in terms of progressive policy change, alongside a deepening of wider public debate around prisons and prisoners, and provision of a key central resource of research and information around prisons and penal reform. We are only just beginning to document what we have done and how we did it here.

Significantly, we have managed to bring about real change with a staff of just four, supported by a team of dedicated interns and a voluntary expert board. We believe we punch well above our weight.

However, the generous support of Atlantic Philanthropies is coming to an end in the near future. Unless IPRT accesses new sources of support, we will be unable to maintain our current levels of activity and programme of work. Moreover, we will be less able to ensure that recent policy promises and developments become reality, and are not reversed.

In fact, we would love to do much more. Limited resources mean that while we have achieved maximum leverage at policy level, we cannot provide the prisoner advocacy service that is so much needed in Ireland.

If you value the contribution IPRT has made over recent years, and believe our work should continue into the future, please consider showing your support by becoming a member or making a donation.

If you would like to know more about how we spend donations, please contact Liam Herrick, our Executive Director.

There are many other ways that you can become involved in the movement for progressive penal reform in Ireland. Find out here.

3. IPRT Event: 'Breaking the Record - Moving On'

Spent Convictions and Garda Vetting

IPRT has been campaigning for spent convictions legislation for many years, the absence of which amounts to lifelong punishment for often very minor offences.

As the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 enters its final stages, and with the imminent commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012, we are holding an afternoon seminar focusing on the two pieces of legislation, how they will work in practice, and the issues that remain unaddressed.

We are delighted that Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes has agreed to chair the event; Senator Jillian van Turnout will speak on the legislative process around spent convictions; and Mary Cunningham, Director of the NYCI will speak on child protection, vetting procedures and responding to information disclosed.

Date/Time: Wed 12th June 2013, from 3-5pm
Location: Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2

To register for this free event, contact Mary at 01-8741400 or email or sign up online.

For more information about IPRT’s Spent Convictions campaign, visit:

4. IPRT is recruiting: Research & Policy Officer (Maternity Leave)

Applications are now invited for the post of Research and Policy Officer (Maternity Leave) with the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT). The successful candidate will be responsible for developing the policy base for IPRT’s campaigning work, including carrying out research and engaging with key stakeholders in the Irish penal system.

This position is to cover Maternity Leave and will be of fixed duration of five months from 1st June to 1st November 2013.
The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 24th May 2013. Interviews will be held for shortlisted candidates within 10 days of the closing date.

Please note: Application is by official application form and cover letter only. We will be unable to accept incomplete or late applications.


For more information, please contact Mary Gaffney at

5. Latest Reports

(i) Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality - Report on Penal Reform

Published by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on 27th March 2013, IPRT engaged with the Sub-Committee on Penal Reform by way of a submission in Nov 2011; some of our recommendations were endorsed by the Justice Committee.

(ii) Prison Visiting Committee Annual Reports 2012

The Minister for Justice published three Prison Visiting Committee annual reports on 7th May 2013.

(iii) Prison and Probation Annual Reports 2012

The Minister for Justice published the 2012 annual reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service, along with a new Joint Strategy between the two agencies, on 8th May 2013.

6. IPRT in the News

We play a leading, uniquely independent role in public debate around the issue of penal reform and prison as a sanction of last resort.

  • The Irish Times examines Ireland's prisons: In a series running over the week of 19-26 January 2013, The Irish Times examined Ireland’s prisons, the problems they face, and what positive changes are being made. Crime Correspondent Conor Lally reports, with additional reporting by Dan Griffin. The final piece in the series was an opinion piece by Ian O'Donnell, professor of criminology at University College Dublin.
  • Following the publication of the Justice Committee Report on Penal Reform on 27th March, IPRT comment on cross-party consensus that prison numbers must be reduced was included across various print and broadcast channels.

For more details about of IPRT's media work, please contact us.

7. Upcoming events

  • 21 May 2013: Criminalising Addiction: is there Another Way?, Citywide conference takes place at the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare St, Dublin 2. Full details here.
  • Until 2 June 2013: When I Leave these Landings, exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Sq, Dublin 1. Details here.
  • 12 June 2013: Breaking the Record - Moving On, IPRT information seminar around spent convictions and garda vetting takes place at Pearse St Library, Dublin 2. Full details here.
  • 20/21 June 2013: North South Criminology/CCJHR PG Conference 2013 takes place in University College Cork. Details here.
  • 16 July 2013 (tbc): IPRT AGM 2013 - full details to follow shortly.

Become a Member

Would you like to become a member of IPRT?

Annual membership is just €10 for students, €40 for individuals, €80 for organisations/firms, and free to prisoners and their families. We can’t promise you lots of free stuff, but by becoming a member of IPRT you will be expressing your support for urgent penal reform in Ireland.

Why not consider becoming an IPRT member now?

Our work is supported by

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



Contact us

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Click on "Choose cookies" below for more information on the cookies being used on this website. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Please choose the cookies to allow below. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

Your cookie preferences have been saved.