This is a historic day.
Today, Friday 7th April 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD has closed St. Patrick’s Institution.
It follows the signing on Thursday 30th March 2017 by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD of a Ministerial Order ending the sentencing of children to adult prison in Ireland.
These are the final important steps towards ending the damaging practice of placing children in adult prisons in Ireland, which has persisted in Ireland until today in breach of international human rights standards. It will also see the name of St Patrick’s Institution “consigned to history”, as recommended by the late Inspector of Prisons in 2012.
Today, WE – IPRT Board, Staff, Interns, Members, Friends, Supporters and Funders - can feel justifiably proud and celebrate this momentous occasion, and also pause to reflect on the actions we have taken over the past 25 years to make this happen.
Since 1994, IPRT has played a central role in maintaining pressure on Government to end the detention of children in the prison system in Ireland. You can read about some of the actions and activities by IPRT over many years here.
Your involvement has greatly helped us to convince those who make policy decisions that penal reform has wide support, not only among stakeholders but also among the general public. Your support also allows us to engage in sustained, patient and persistent advocacy, in a policy area that is sometimes neglected and often unpopular. The progress in the area of youth justice this week, as well as in other areas – such as the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality now having ‘penal reform’ as a clear policy goal – shows how far we have come.
But, there is still a lot of work to do.
Tomorrow, other issues urgently need addressing: the lack of sufficient open prison facilities; overcrowding in women’s prisons; detention of people with serious mental health issues in prisons; and the ongoing practice of Solitary Confinement in Ireland – to name but a few.
To continue this necessary and important work, and to achieve a penal system that:
- is just and humane;
- protects and promotes human rights, equality and social justice; and
- uses prison as a last resort,
we need YOUR continued support, and we also need to grow this network of support. To find out more, click here.