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Ebulletin #55

9th March 2010

In this edition:

  1. Introduction
  2. New in Research and Policy
  3. Project 2010: Prevention & Early Intervention
  4. Prison Law Seminar Series
  5. IPRT in the News
  6. White Paper on Crime – Second Discussion Document
  7. Visual Artists in Prison Scheme
  8. MA in Criminology at DIT
  9. Council of Europe Consultation
  10. Amnesty International Ireland: Launch of mental health report
  11. Research Opportunity
  12. Upcoming Events

1. Introduction

Welcome to the second IPRT e-bulletin of 2010, in which we are delighted to announce the publication of a new Position Paper on Criminal Sanctions and a Briefing on the Fines Bill 2009 (Report Stage), with our comprehensive report on the reintegration of ex-prisoners due to be published early next month.

Upcoming events include the 5th in the Prison Law Seminar Series, ‘Irish Prison Law and the ECHR’ will take place on Monday 22nd March, 2010. The event is jointly hosted with the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association and the Irish Criminal Bar Association.

In recent weeks, we have seen the Fines Bill 2009 reach report stage in Dáil Éireann, the launch of the second discussion document (Criminal Sanctions) in the White Paper on Crime process, and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform announced the expansion of the Community Service Scheme from 1,500 places to 6,000 places. IPRT welcomes all of these developments.

At the same time, the numbers in custody in Irish prisons are continuing to rise (4,192 on 12th Feb 2010), with high numbers being sent to prison for failure to pay fines (3,366 in the first 10 months of 2009), and the numbers of children being detained on remand is of serious concern – despite very positive reports on the decrease in youth offending.

Finally, we would like to send our congratulations to Executive Director, Liam Herrick and his wife Nessa Cahill on the safe arrival of William, a little brother for Anna!

The IPRT Team


 Are you a member of IPRT?

One of the ways that you can support penal reform in Ireland, is to become a member of IPRT.

Don’t forget to keep up to date on IPRT news and activities between e-bulletins:

W: www.iprt.ie

Tw: www.twitter.com/iprt

Fb: www.facebook.com/irishpenalreformtrust

 2. New in Research and Policy

IPRT has just published our Position Paper on Community Sanctions in which we make the case for an increased use of community-based sanctions in Ireland to replace the use of imprisonment, which is proven to be costly and ineffective. We also published the IPRT Briefing on the Fines Bill 2009 (Report Stage); both are available for download from the IPRT website.

Meanwhile, we are finalizing our report on re-integration of ex-prisoners, and continuing work on the forthcoming Position Paper on Health in Prisons. For more information, contact Agnieszka Martynowicz, IPRT Research & Policy Officer, at: research@iprt.ie

3.  IPRT Campaigns 2010

IPRT is working towards a large-scale project, Choosing to Tackle the Causes of Crime: The Case for a Shift of Justice Resources to Prevention and Early Intervention in 2010.The project will comprise a research report (spring 2010), campaign (summer-autumn 2010) and conference event (autumn 2010). This initiative seeks to influence government policy to shift resources away from the criminal justice system towards prevention and early intervention initiatives, which international cost benefit analysis has proven to be of far greater benefit to society in terms of social and economic cost. In the preparatory stage, IPRT has been collecting relevant news and research at: www.iprt.ie/current-campaign

IPRT will also be launching a campaign around the Spent Convictions Bill 2007, with the aims of: re-establishing it as a legislative priority of Government; having amendments accepted to strengthen the Bill; and seeing the legislation enacted by end of 2010.

To get involved in IPRT campaigns or for more info, please contact Fíona or Lynsey at IPRT.

 4.  Prison Law Seminar: Irish Prison Law and the ECHR

The fifth Prison Law Seminar Series takes place in Dublin on Monday 22nd March, focusing on the issue of the European Court of Human Rights in the context of Irish prison law.

This seminar will address the principal procedural issues surrounding the application of the ECHR Act in a Prison Law context before the Irish courts; as well the procedural issues surrounding the bringing of cases to the European Court of Human Rights. The seminar will also address recent Strasbourg jurisprudence relating to human rights in prison.


  • Anna Austin (Registry of the European Court of Human Rights)
  • James MacGuill (solicitor and former president of the Law Society)

Full details, including registration form, are available here.

Please contact info@iprt.ie for more information.

The Prison Law seminar series is hosted jointly by Irish Penal Reform Trust, the Irish Criminal Bar Association and the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association and qualifies for Continuing Professional Development for both solicitors and barristers.

 5. IPRT in the News – some highlights

On 14th Feb, the joint call by IPRT and ICCL was reiterated in the Sunday Business Post Online.

On 16th Feb, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern announced that the number of Community Service Orders will increase three fold in 2010, from 1,500 to 6,000; Liam spoke to ‘RTE News on Two’ about the proven benefits of CSOs in terms of lower re-offending rates.  This was picked up on 17th Feb, when Liam spoke on RTE's 'Drivetime' and Highland Radio's 'Sean Doherty Show'. And on 18th Feb, Today FM’s ‘The Last Word’ explored community sanctions in more detail, with Liam as contributor.

On 22nd Feb, Liam spoke on 4FM’s 'Lunchtime on 4' in relation to the Fines Bill 2009, which returned to the Dáil (Report Stage) on 3rd March 2010.

And on 8th March, IPRT stated clearly in the Irish Examiner that prison is a wholly inappropriate place for people with serious mental health issues. IPRT’s Agnieszka Martynowicz also spoke to 4FM’s ‘Lunchtime on 4’ about mental health care provision in Irish prisons.

For links to our media activities, see: www.iprt.ie/iprt-in-the-news or contact Fíona, IPRT Campaigns & Communications Officer.

 6. White Paper on Crime Second Discussion Document - 'Criminal Sanctions'

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has committed to publishing a White Paper on Crime in 2011. As public consultation is a critical and ongoing part of this process, submissions are invited from members of the public and other interested parties on the issues raised in the document. The closing date for submissions is end of May, 2010.

IPRT welcomes the positive language of submissions received to date, noting in particular the submission that imprisonment should only be used as a last resort.

The purpose of the second discussion document is to set out the current range of sanctions applied in Ireland and to ask:

  1. What role should sanctions play as part of an overall response to crime?
  2.  How well is the existing approach to sanctions and sentencing working to prevent and reduce crime?
  3. How should policy in this area best be developed and implemented?

Read more:

 7. Visual Artists in Prison Scheme - call for applications 

The Visual Artists in Prison Schemeallows artists to work with prisoners in one of the country’s prison/detention centres for a period of 10 days. The scheme is jointly-funded by The Arts Council and the Department of Justice, Equality and law Reform, and is administered through the Prison Education Service. A call has been made (26th Feb 2010) for artists interested in being placed on the panel of short listed artists to contact the Co-ordinator of Visual Artists in Prison Scheme, Veronica Hoen.

Read More:

For further information contact: veronicahoen@eircom.net

 8. MA in Criminology in Dublin Institute of Technology

The MA in Criminology at the School of Social Sciences and Law, Dublin Institute of Technology is the first postgraduate taught programme of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The programme aims to provide students with a firm theoretical grounding in, and understanding of, contemporary criminological issues as well as thorough training in research skills.

The Course can be taken on a full time (two evenings a week for one year) or part time (one evening a week for two years) basis. Modules include; The Criminal Justice System, Penal Policy, Youth Offending and Youth Justice Perspectives among others. A dissertation is also included as part of the MA.

 Read more on the DIT website

Closing date for applications is 30th April, 2010. Click here for application form.

 9. Council of Europe – Consultation on Child-friendly Justice

Young people: your Council of Europe needs you! The Council of Europe is now seeking submissions from children and young people aged 17 or under to better inform their forthcoming guidelines on child-friendly justice. Read more and give your views here.

 10. Amnesty International Ireland: Launch of mental health report

A new report from Amnesty International Ireland, The Missing Link: coordinated Government action on mental health was launched on 24th February by Mr John Moloney, T.D., Minister of State with Responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health. Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland, and Caroline McGuigan, founder and CEO of Suicide or Survive, also spoke.

Read more:

  • Read the press release here
  • Download The Missing Link report

 11. Research Opportunity: “No winners:  the reality of short sentenced prisoners”

The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Governors’ Association (UK) are seeking to commission a researcher to look at short term prison sentences from the perspective of those serving short sentences and those working in prisons.  The focus of the study is adult men serving sentences of up to 12 months in local prisons in England and Wales. The research is to be undertaken and written up by November 2010.  Closing date for applications:  22 March 2010.

The details of the research and how to apply can be found at  http://www.howardleague.org/research-opportunities/

 12. Upcoming Events

  • On 9th March the Irish Society for European Law presents a public lecture “Human Rights in the EU after the Lisbon Treaty: practical implications of the new Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Union’s Accession to the ECH”. Contact iselhumanrights@gmail.com for more information.
  • On 14th March, the Centre of Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCHJR), Faculty of Law, UCC will host the 4th Annual Criminal Justice and Human Rights Lecture: ‘Respectable Criminality’ will be delivered by the Honourable Mr Justice William McKechnie, Judge of the High Court. For more information, contact: cchjr@ucc.ie
  • On 23rd March, Durham Law School is organising a 1-day conference on the broad area of Restorative Justice and Transitional Justice.
  • From 14th to 16th April, the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control - British and Irish section conference takes place at Manchester Metropolitan University, on the theme: “Standing in the Gaps: Challenging the Entitlement of the Powerful”   
  • On 16th April, the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a new initiative of FLAC working to develop public interest law in Ireland, will host a conference on public law. Speakers among others include: Andrew Durbach of PILCH in Australia, Ed Rekosh of PILI in Budapest and Mark O’Brien of Probono.net in New York. See: www.pila.ie or www.flac.ie
  • On 29th April, the CCJHR will hold its IV Annual Postgraduate Conference, on the theme "Borders of Justice: Locating the Law in Times of Transition." The call for papers closes 19th February 2010.
  • On 7th May, the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), an initiative of FLAC, will host a seminar on using international law. Colm O’Cinneide of the European Committee of Social Rights and Kate Fox of the UNHCR will speak. See: www.pila.ie or www.flac.ie
  • From 24th to 28th May, the EPEA (Malta branch) is hosting a 1-week course entitled: Training Teachers and Instructors to Teach in Prisons/Detention Centres. For more information, contact Dr. Joseph Giordmaina at: joseph.giordmaina@um.edu.mt
  • From 31st May to 4th June, the International Human Rights Network will host training in “Justice Sector Reform: Applying Human Rights Based Approaches on NUI Maynooth campus. For more information, contact: PHarney@ihrnetwork.org
  • On 21st/22nd June, the 6th North/South Irish Criminology Conference will take place at the University of Ulster, Belfast Campus.
  • From 23rd to 25th June, the 13th International Conference on Penal Abolition takes place at Queen’s University, Belfast.


 Irish Penal Reform Trust

4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7
T: +353-(0)1-874-1400                    E: info@iprt.ie                   W: www.iprt.ie

 All articles are copyright 2009 Irish Penal Reform Trust, unless otherwise noted.

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