21st December 2015
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Not our words but those of Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD on 16th December 2015, when the Prisons Bill 2015 completed all stages in the Oireachtas. The passage of the legislation, which provides for the closure of St Patrick’s Institution, forms a critical final step towards closing the prison to children and young people.
It comes 30 years after the Whitaker Report first recommended the complete closure of the prison, and following decades of inaction by successive governments - not to mention 21 years of campaigning by IPRT for an end to the imprisonment of children in adult facilities in Ireland. So it was truly a historic day - and a great finale to 2015, another busy year for IPRT and penal reform in Ireland. Read a short review of our work in 2015 below.
Although the work of IPRT benefits all of society through our advocacy for more effective, less damaging, responses to offending, it does not enjoy popular appeal. As the generous support of two of our funders, Atlantic Philanthropies and Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, will come to an end after 2016, we need the support of you - our members, friends and supporters - to continue our important work. Find out more here.
In January, we will be announcing our exciting programme for work for 2016. For now, please make a note in your diaries that IPRT will launch a new report the first week in February 2016: Out on the Inside, which explores the particular rights and needs of LGBT people in prison.
In the meantime, we wish all our members and friends a happy and peaceful festive season, with very best wishes for 2016!
Deirdre, Fíona, Marie Therese, Kate O'H, Katie S and Sean
IPRT is resolutely focused on outcomes - real, measurable change in Ireland's penal system - rather than lists of activities and outputs, but we are very proud of what our small team of just 4 staff, supported by a dedicated volunteer board and interns, manage to achieve every year. 2015 was no different - here are just some of the highlights:
Seminars & Events:
IPRT staff also delivered many presentations, conference papers and guest lectures at conferences, in prisons, and to university students around Ireland and abroad in 2015.
IPRT made oral and written submissions to national and international processes throughout 2015, including three presentations to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, and a presentation to the Department of Justice discussion day on proposals for a criminal justice inspectorate. The following are just a small number of highlights:
During 2015, IPRT worked on a number of discrete research projects:
In our 'spare' time, IPRT also engages with the general public and media debate on relevant issues:
Our attention was also taken up by the longer-term sustainability of the organisation. The generous support of Atlantic Philanthropies and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust will come to an end after 2016, and unless IPRT accesses new sources of support, we will be unable to maintain our current levels of activity and programme of work. Some of the work during 2015 included:
All of this work was achieved alongside responding to queries from prisoners and their families, answering queries from people with unspent convictions, constant monitoring of media, policy and relevant legislation, together with all the day-to-day work that comes with running an organisation.
Not bad for a small team of just four staff, achieved through hard work and the support of our volunteer board and interns!
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 becoming a Friend of IPRT or simply making a donation.
If you would like to know more about how we spend donations, please contact Deirdre Malone, our Executive Director.
On 27 November 2015, IPRT hosted a major conference on accountability in the Irish prison system. There was a strong turnout for this event, including representatives from key criminal justice agencies, former prisoners, and civil society. Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD opened the conference, during which she reaffirmed her commitment both to a reformed criminal justice system and to improved accountability. Presentations from the conference will be available in January 2016. In the meantime:
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?
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.