8th May 2014
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Dear Members and Friends,
IPRT is delighted to introduce our new IPRT Executive Director, Deirdre Malone. Deirdre began in her role with IPRT on 24th March 2014, and it would be an understatement to say that her first five weeks have been extremely busy! You can follow Deirdre's tweets at @DeirdreMalone9
We would like to invite you to meet Deirdre at the launch of our new report, 'Travellers in the Irish Prison System: A qualitative study' which takes place on 19th March 2014 at 10.30am - full details here.
In addition to our regular programme of work, and the kick off of our participation on three different European projects, events over the last five weeks have included: the #prisontapes revelations, the publication of the long-awaited Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douch, calls by the Prison Officers Association for a Prisoner Ombudsman, and, today, the appointment of a new Minister for Justice and Equality, and a new Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. We congratulated Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Flanagan on their appointments, and look forward to the continuation of this programme of progressive penal reform, which contributes to a safer, more efficient and more equitable justice system.
IPRT employment-based PhD candidate Kate O'Hara has relocated to Cork for 2 months to examine data in the Central Statistics Office (the IPRT Cork connection continues!)
Elizabeth Martin and Keith Adams started work on the IPRT internship programme on 3rd March, and have been working on submissions, research projects, European project outlines, and much more.
As always, we welcome your feedback and comments: email@example.com
We are delighted to introduced our new Executive Director, Deirdre Malone, who took over the helm of IPRT on 24th March 2014. Previously a barrister in private practice, Deirdre worked from one of the foremost human rights chambers in the UK; initially purely on criminal defence matters in the Youth Court, Magistrates Court and Crown Court and then as a member of the inquest and prison law team specialising in the representation of bereaved families at inquests into deaths of their loved ones within prisons and other places of detention.
Deirdre has uniquely broad human rights experience having also worked in Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties UK), in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland), and as a researcher for the Irish Attorney General.
Come along to meet Deirdre at the launch of our new report (see below) on 19th March 2014. To reserve your place, please sign-up here.
A qualitative study
IPRT will launch a new comprehensive report on the experiences of Travellers in the Irish prison system on Monday 19th May 2014. The event takes place from 10.30-12pm in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
Travellers in the Irish Prison System: A qualitative study is the culmination of a qualitative research project, carried out by Liza Costello, including interviews with former prisoners. The comprehensive 76-page report details:
To reserve your place, please sign-up here or contact 01-8741400
IPRT is very grateful to the St Stephen’s Green Trust for their support of this research project.
This event is free, but you can show your support for the ongoing work and activities of IPRT by becoming a member! Why not consider becoming an IPRT member now?
a. Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douch
The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douch was finally published on 1st May 2014, exactly 7 years and 9 months after the young man’s brutal death in Mountjoy Prison on 1st August 2006. System failures, severe overcrowding, inadequate oversight, and inaccurate recording and sharing of critical information were among the litany of failures identified by the Commission which led to the young man's death.
On publication of the Report, IPRT called on the Irish Prison Service to set and maintain safe custody limits, aligned with the recommendations by the Inspector of Prisons, to ensure that potential future tragedies can be avoided; the protection of vulnerable prisoners must be a priority; and until such time as full integration with the HSE is achieved, all prisoners requiring mental health treatment should be assessed for diversion into services outside of the prison estate. More details here.
Following revelations on 1st April 2014 that the Irish Prison Service had recorded some calls between prisoners and their legal representatives, IPRT expressed its serious concern at this breach of "one of the most fundamental protections in the justice system", one that is particularly important for prisoners in Ireland, who do not have access to an independent complaints mechanism. IPRT called for a full, independent investigation into the circumstances around the recording of the calls. Read more here.
c. Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013
IPRT broadly welcomed the passing of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013 on 10th April 2014. However we cautioned that the legislation would have no impact unless fully commenced. (There have been more than 30,000 committals to prison for fines default since the Fines Act 2010 was signed into law, almost four years ago.) IPRT therefore calls on the Minister for Justice to ensure the full and expedient commencement of the present Bill, to fulfil its intended purpose of ending Ireland’s wasteful and damaging practice of imprisoning thousands of people every year for failing to pay court-ordered fines. Read more here.
d. Publication of Prisons and Probation Annual Reports
The 2013 Annual Reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service were published alongside a new joint strategy, the Joint Probation Service – Irish Prison Service Strategy 2014-2016: An Effective Response to Women Who Offend, on 6th March 2014.
Key issues to emerge in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2013 include rocketing female committals, high proportions of 17-year-old boys committed on remand to prison, and the persistent over-reliance on short sentences by the Irish criminal justice system.
Positive developments include an overall decrease in prison committals and daily prison populations in the male prisons; measures taken towards the elimination of slopping out; a significant reduction in the number of prisoners held on 22/23-hour lock-up; and a number of education and community-engagement initiatives.
Read more here.
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.
You can find out more about what we have achieved and how we have achieved it here.
There are many other ways that you can become involved in the movement for progressive penal reform in Ireland. Find out here.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.