Irish Penal Reform Trust

Round Up: Unseen Unheard Report Event Launch

7th September 2017

Yesterday, Dr. Fiona Donson and Dr. Aisling Parkes, in collaboration with IPRT and the Children’s Rights Alliance launched a document ‘Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison’.

The event Unseen Unheard was organised by the School of Law, University College Cork and hosted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

The project aims to highlight the dearth of data available on the number of children who have a parent in prison. The principles document draws on best practice models from other jurisdictions and calls on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, as well as other relevant stakeholders to recognise this cohort of children, support and promote the voices and experiences of these children.

The event was opened by an address from Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance. In her opening address she called for greater support for the children of prisoners so that these children “can enjoy childhood like other children.”

The event also saw contributions from women participating in the Saol Project who had experience of parental imprisonment and the impact it had on their children, Tim Haines of the Families Outside organisation in Scotland who spoke about the important role that schools play in supporting children affected by parental imprisonment, Fergal Black, Director of Care and Rehabilitation in the Irish Prison Service, Larry de Cléir a Project Leader of Bedford Row Family Project, Ilina Taneva the Secretary to the Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison and Probation Services and Secretary to the Council for Penological Cooperation, Karen McAuley Participation and Education Officer at the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and Fergal Landy, Regional Implementation Manager at Tusla.

The event aimed to create a space for dialogue on mechanisms that can be used to foster positive changes for children affected by parental imprisonment.

The principles document aims to highlight key steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that children affected by parental imprisonment are recognised and supported in national policy.

The ‘Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in prison’ document was devised as part of this project. These principles focus on six key areas to better inform policy and service provision for children affected by parental imprisonment which include:

  • Build a solid knowledge base (through data gathering);
  • Hear the voices of children with a parent in prison;
  • Recognise the holistic needs of children with a parent in prison in National Policy;
  • Establish multi-agency partnerships at local level and national levels;
  • Develop monitoring frameworks;
  • Raise awareness of the issue.

This project was funded by the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations Scheme.

To find out more:
• Read the report by clicking here;
'Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison';
• Read our 2012 report “Picking up the Pieces” here;
• See Larry de Cléir of Bedford Row’s presentation here;
• See Tim Haines of Families Outside’s presentation here;
• See Ilina Taneva of the Council for Penological Cooperation’s presentation here.

Media Coverage of the Event:

• Irish Examiner: ‘Advocacy strategy needed for prisoners’ children, say groups';
• Irish Times: ‘Children who have parent in prison ‘unseen and unheard’’;
• Irish Legal News: ‘Government challenged to do more to support children with a parent in prison’.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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