Media Centre

  • Newsletter 92

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  • "The Rights, Experiences and Needs of Older Prisoners in Ireland”

    IPRT is currently inviting tenders for a research project on the current provision for and specific needs of older prisoners in Ireland.

    10% of people in prison custody today are aged over 50. There has been a 75% increase in this category of prisoner since 2008, with a 92% increase in the number of people aged over 50 committed to prison each year between 2008 and 2013.

    Older prisoners therefore represent a substantial and increasing minority within the prison system. With the growing number of older prisoners there has come acknowledgement that the needs of this group differ greatly from those of the general prison population. Specific issues relate to mobility, visual/hearing impairments, ability to engage with activities and programmes available within prisons, and issues relating to mental health including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Despite acknowledgement of the specific needs of this group, there has as yet been little measurable progress in the development of targeted strategies to address and facilitate the healthcare needs of this substantial, and increasing, proportion of the prison population.

    IPRT has secured funding from St. Stephen’s Green Trust to pursue a policy and awareness-raising project on issues relating to older prisoners in Ireland. The core output from this project will be a concise issues paper for submission to key policy makers, with a view to securing specific policy commitments which promote inclusion and equality of older detainees.

    Full details are available here.

    Tenders should be submitted by e-mail to Deirdre Malone at: 

    CLOSING DATE: Noon on Monday 2nd March 2015

  • Newstalk documentary ‘Mary and the Joy’ aired on 4 November 2018 and recounts the experiences of Mary McLoughlin, a 93-year-old Roscommon native who worked in the Irish Prison Service between 1947 and 1956.

    The documentary, produced by Colm Wallace and Ciarán Ryan, highlights the differences, and similarities, between prison life during the 1940’s and 50’s compared to today’s prisons and gives an insight into the experiences of female prisoners of that time. A very different Ireland than the one we have today, Dr Lynsey Black (Maynooth University) discusses the public outrage at the question of executing a female prisoner, which she says is a result of the “paternalism” in Ireland at the time regarding the lives of women.

    While the documentary shines light on the differences between prisons in the mid-twentieth century compared to our current system and infrastructure, there are still some aspects which ring true today, particularly regarding relationships formed between prison staff and prisoners. Mary recounts fondly on some of the relationships she had with the female inmates, a relationship which IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone says remains critical in modern day Ireland.

    Speaking in the documentary, Deirdre Malone emphasises that while the power imbalance at play between prison officers and prisoners must be acknowledged, “relationship-based care within prison is immensely important” and “there is also a huge opportunity for officers to have an amazing impact on the lives of women”.

    ‘Mary and the Joy’ offers an insightful glimpse into the lives of prisoners and staff in the 40’s and 50’s in Ireland and provides listeners with food for thought on modern Irish society’s treatment of prisoners throughout history and today, as we move towards achieving a more humane and successful prison system in Ireland.

    Listen back to the documentary in full here.

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