Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #77

4th December 2014

  1. Introduction
  2. Children's Rights Behind Bars: Where are we now? (Seminar)
  3. IPRT Board of Directors
  4. Recent Developments in Penal Reform
  5. Upcoming Events
  6. Join IPRT and support our work!
  7. Contact

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Dear Members and Friends,

A short ebulletin this month to highlight our upcoming event: Children's Rights Behind Bars: Where are we now? which takes place Thurs 11th December in the Morrison Hotel, Dublin 1. A mulled wine reception will follow the event, to which all our members and friends are invited. There is great interest in the event, so registration is recommended. Find out more below.

In this edition you can also find out about the new Board of Directors of IPRT; recent developments in penal reform; and how you can support IPRT by becoming a member, if you haven't already!

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments:


Children's Rights Behind Bars: Where are we now?

Seminar and launch

The practice of detaining children in St Patrick's Institution is expected to end, finally, in early 2015. As this dark chapter in Ireland's response to children in trouble with the law comes to a close, this seminar will explore whether our children detention system is meeting its goal as model, particularly in the area of monitoring and complaints. The seminar takes place on Thursday 11th December 2014 from 4-6pm in the Morrison Hotel, Dublin 1. Speakers include:

  • (Chair) Prof. Ursula Kilkelly, Dept of Law and Director of Child Law Clinic, University College Cork
  • Páraic Walsh, investigator at the Ombudsman for Children's Office
  • Jennifer Gargan, Director, EPIC (Empowering People in Care)
  • Catherine Ghent, solicitor specialising in child law

We would like to invite everyone to join us for a glass of mulled wine reception following the event, where the conversation will continue. To register for the event, please sign up online here or send an email to Marie Therese at: This event is free. However, you can show your support by considering making a donation or becoming a member of IPRT.

Children's Rights Behind BarsThis seminar forms part of a European research project, Children's Rights Behind Bars, led by Defence of Children International, of which IPRT is the Irish partner. A national report on monitoring complaints mechanisms in Ireland will be shared at the event.

COE flattened


Introducing our Board

IPRT Board 2014

[Back row, L-R: Christine Littlefield, Kathleen Leader, Seamus Taylor, Prof Joe Barry, Eddie D'Arcy, Johnny Connolly, Niall Walsh; front row, L-R: Joan O'Flynn, Prof Michael O'Flaherty, Paul Mackay, Dr Kevin Warner; Photo: Derek Speirs.]

The 2014 AGM of IPRT took place on Wed 22nd October in Dublin. During the meeting, Dr Mary Rogan stepped down after 4 years as Chairperson of IPRT, and 6 years as board member. Board member Paddy Richardson also stepped down having served on the Board since 2011. Both Mary and Paddy were thanked for their immense contribution and commitment over the years, and both will be greatly missed.

We also welcomed two new members, Professor Michael O’Flaherty and Ms Joan O’Flynn, to the Board. We are delighted to announce that Prof. O’Flaherty was officially elected as Chair at the following board meeting. We once again wish to extend a warm welcome to both Michael and Joan, and we look to a fruitful and progressive future for IPRT with their involvement.

Read biographies of IPRT Board members here and about IPRT's achievements here.


Recent Developments

a. Inspector of Prisons' Annual Report 2013-14

The Annual Report 2013-2014 of the Inspector of Prisons was published on Thurs 9th October 2014. In his report, the Inspector of Prisons acknowledges progress in some areas of the prison system. However, the report also details obstacles to the Inspector's investigations, which are of serious concern. The Report can be accessed here; IPRT's response can be accessed here.

b. Census of Prison Population, Cell Occupancy and In Cell Sanitation, Oct 2014

As of Oct 2014, the prison population stood at 3,806. Of these, 47% were required to share a cell with one or more individuals, and 303 prisoners were still required to slop out. Click here to read the Census report.

c. Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners, Oct 2014

As of Oct 2014, 246 prisoners were on a restricted regime, and the number of prisoners on 22/23 hour lock up was 52. The full Census is available here.

d. Statement by Minister for Justice on penal policy recommendations, Nov 2014

In a response to a Dáil question on 20th Nov 2014, Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, stated that the implementation of some key recommendations arising from the Strategic Review of Penal Policy will proceed immediately. These are:

  • bringing forward legislative proposals to establish the Parole Board on an independent statutory basis;
  • preparing proposals and options for Government on reform of sentencing policy including a review of the threshold at which presumptive minimum sentences in drugs and other offences apply;
  • preparing proposals for Government on legislating for the review's recommendation that Courts set out in writing their reasons for imposing a custodial sentence;
  • preparing proposals on the potential for increased use of earned remission; and
  • pursuing options for an open prison for female offenders.

IPRT believes that progress on the above recommendations is a positive move in the direction of necessary reform, but there is still much to be achieved to ensure that Ireland is meeting its international human rights obligations, and that our penal policy is rational, evidence-based and makes social and economic sense.


Upcoming Events

  • On 5 Dec, a one day international conference, Changing Mindsets, Changing Minds: Conference on the Rights of Children of Offenders, takes place in Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork. Full details here.
  • On 11 Dec, the IPRT seminar on Children's Rights Behind Bars: Where are we now? takes place from 4-6pm in the Morrison Hotel, Lwr Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.
  • On 23 Dec, at 5pm, IPRT offices will close for seasonal holidays; we will reopen on Monday 5 Jan 2015 at 9am.


~ We need YOU ~

Be part of something effective

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.

Our work is supported by

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



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