IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Press Release: IPRT highlights lack of mental health services in Irish prisons ahead of UN Committee hearing

25th July 2017


IPRT highlights lack of mental health services in Irish prisons ahead of UN Committee hearing 

The inappropriate use of our prisons to hold people with mental health illnesses is one of the most critical problems within the Irish Prison Service. That’s according to Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Acting Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT).

IPRT will be one of a group of Irish NGOs travelling to a UN hearing in Geneva later this week, at which Ireland will be examined by the UN Committee against Torture. Ahead of the hearing, IPRT has made a submission to the Committee, outlining concerns about the Irish penal system.

Key issues that IPRT is raising with the Committee include:

  • The referral of prisoners with severe mental health illnesses to appropriate facilities, instead of their continuous retention in the prison system.
  • The reduction of the use of solitary confinement as a way of dealing with violence and safety concerns in prisons, and the abolition of solitary confinement of people with mental health issues.
  • The transferral of responsibility for the provision of health services in Irish prisons to the national health service (HSE); and the provision of oversight of healthcare services by the independent authority HIQA, established specifically to inspect health and social care services in Ireland.
  • The provision of adequate resources to the Office of the Inspector of Prisons to ensure the regular publication of inspection reports. The most recent published inspection report on an individual prison was published in September 2014; the most recent Annual Report published was in October 2014.

Speaking ahead of the examination of Ireland by the UN Committee on Thursday and Friday, Fíona Ní Chinnéide said: “We hope the issues outlined in our submission will be adequately considered and we look forward to strong commitments by the Government to progress policies and legislation to ensure that the rights of everyone in the penal system are respected.”


Contact: Sebastian Enke, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-3239496.

Note to Editors:

  •  Fíona Ní Chinnéide is available for interviews on request. She will travel to Geneva tomorrow (Wed) and attend the UN Committee hearings on Thursday and Friday.
  • The Government delegation will be led by Mr David Stanton TD, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration.
  •  IPRT’s submission to the UN Committee against Torture is available for download here: http://bit.ly/2uvAA29.

About the IPRT

Established in 1994, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for rights in the penal system and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy. Its vision is one of respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort. IPRT is committed to respecting the rights of everyone in the penal system and to reducing imprisonment. It is working towards progressive reform of the penal system based on evidence-led policies and on a commitment to combating social injustice.

IPRT publishes a wide range of policy positions and research documents; it campaigns vigorously across a wide range of penal policy issues; and has established itself as the leading independent voice in public debate on the Irish penal system.

Learn more