6th August 2019
This short submission to the Joint Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community primarily focuses on mental health issues affecting Travellers in the prison system. Much of the relevant information is extracted from IPRT’s (2014) report, Travellers in the Irish Prison System: A qualitative study, which provides a more detailed account of these issues.
Since the publication of the IPRT report, a number of important developments have occurred for Travellers in the prison system, including the establishment of the Travellers in Prison Initiative (TPI). TPI was set up in 2014 as a response to the particular rights, needs and experiences of Travellers in prisons in Ireland.
There is documented evidence that Travellers are over-represented in the prison population in Ireland. In 2017, while Travellers made up 0.6% of the population in Ireland, it was estimated by the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service that Traveller males comprise 10% of the male prison population while female Travellers account for 22% of the female prison population.
In its Annual Report 2018, the Irish Prison Service highlighted a number of relevant developments, including: ongoing research on the issues experienced by Traveller women in prison; recruit prison officer training on understanding specific issues impacting on Travellers; and a review of in-reach service provision to Travellers in prison. Furthermore, the Irish Prison Service has made progress on implementing the Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty with women in prison.
The submission looks at: how discrimination and stigma affect the mental health of Travellers in prison, domestic violence, accessing mental health services and adequacy of funding for services, and the use of restricted regimes. More on the context and research can be found in the full submission in 'Documents' below.
Summary of Submission Recommendations