Irish Penal Reform Trust

Round-up: Launch of Progress in the Penal System 2020: Making Progress in a Pandemic?

27th January 2021

IPRT was delighted to virtually launch the fourth annual edition of Progress in the Penal System 2020: Assessing progress during a pandemic ('PIPS 2020') on Tuesday 26 January 2021.

PIPS 2020 captures the positive reforms that have been implemented in response to the pandemic, reflects on how these reforms were achieved, and outlines the longer-term benefits to wider society so that these progressive reforms will be retained into the future. PIPS 2020 also examines the ongoing challenges of prison and penal reform during a time of pandemic, with focus on four thematic areas: penal policy; prison conditions and regimes; prison health and mental health; and accountability.

The report is available to download here. See pages 11 and 12 for an overview of the assessment of each standard.

While the launch took place virtually due to public health restrictions, we were pleased to invite contributions from esteemed speakers and respondents.


  • Ms Oonagh McPhillips, Secretary General of the Department of Justice [Read Ms McPhillips' keynote address here.]
  • Dr. Brie Williams, Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Director of Amend at UCSF 
  • Michelle Martyn, IPRT's Policy & Research Manager and lead author of the report, and Fíona Ní Chinnéide, IPRT Executive Director


  • Ms Caron McCaffrey, Director General, Irish Prison Service [Read Ms McCaffrey's remarks here.]
  • Ms Fiona Coyle, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Reform

The event was Chaired by Prof. Aislinn O'Donnell, Chair of the PIPS Advisory Group Dr. Seamus Taylor, IPRT Chairperson, provided closing reflections.

Biographies for all external speakers and an indicative agenda for the event are available here.


The PIPS project is made possible through the continued support of our donor-advised family fund and the Community Foundation for Ireland.

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



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