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Inspector of Prisons' review of prisoner complaints system

9th June 2016

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, published the Inspector of Prisons' report on the prisoner complaints system, Review, Evaluation and Analysis of the Operation of the present Irish Prison Service Prisoner Complaints Procedure, on Wed 8th June 2016. The review is available here.

IPRT welcomes the publication of the Inspector's report, and the Tánaiste's commitment to improving the internal prison complaints system and to progressing proposals for an external mechanism for prisoner complaints, such as extension of the Ombudsman's remit. IPRT further welcomes the Tánaiste's emphasis on the need to promote the rights of all prisoners including vulnerable prisoners, with an effective complaints system as "just one aspect of achieving this goal".

In her previous role as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Tánaiste demonstrated a clear commitment to accountability by acting with then Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, to extend the complaints remit of the Ombudsman for Children to include children detained in adult prison facilities. Until this action in June 2012, children whose rights were being breached through their detention in adult prison facilities - specifically, the widely condemned St Patrick's Institution - had been excluded from making complaints to the Ombudsman for Children.

We are confident that the Tánaiste's strong record of achievement in terms of addressing the most critical rights issues in the youth justice system can be extended to achieve the highest standards of accountability to the adult prison system too.

Nevertheless, the Inspector's report raises a large number of issues that are of serious concern, along with recommendations for how the prisoner complaints system can be reformed. To this end, IPRT is now considering the findings of the report carefully, and consulting with relevant stakeholders before responding in detail in due course.

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