IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Drivetime: Mental Health Issues in Prison

3rd February 2017

Irish prisons were compared to asylums by representatives of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Thursday 2nd February 2017. In an article in today’s Irish Times by Sorcha Pollak, “More than 70% of prisoners ‘have addiction issues’", IPS Director General Michael Donnellan, when speaking to the PAC, described mental health issues in the Irish prison population as “a massive problem” and said 30 people were awaiting beds in a mental health care facility at any one time.

Speaking on Drivetime on Thursday 2nd February 2017, Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Acting Executive Director of IPRT, said that IPRT is very concerned about the number of people on remand in Cloverhill Prison waiting for transfer to appropriate treatment facilities including the Central Mental Hospital, adding that the capacity of forensic mental health beds could be increased by three times.

She also pointed to some examples of good practice, such as the Prison Inreach and Court Liaison Service in Cloverhill Prison, and also the High Support Unit in Mountjoy Prison. However, vulnerable care units are needed in all prisons.

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