27th May 2022
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed the appointment of Mark Kelly as the new Inspector of Prisons and has called on him to prioritise the frequency of prison inspections when he takes up his new role.
Following the announcement by Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD yesterday evening (26.05.2022), Executive Director of IPRT, Saoirse Brady stated:
“IPRT welcomes the appointment of Mr. Kelly, who has vast human rights expertise, as the Inspector of Prisons. His previous membership of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture will undoubtedly bring a unique perspective to the role, given that Mark has visited, monitored, and has intricate knowledge of prison systems and other places of detention throughout Europe."
Commenting on the current gaps in inspection and monitoring of prisons in Ireland, Ms. Brady continued:
“While COVID-19 Thematic Inspections of all prisons in Ireland were conducted during 2021 and were published recently, we have not seen the publication of a general prison inspection report of an operational prison since 2014. This should be a matter of concern for us all. We know how important these inspections are for shining a light on what goes on behind locked walls, on ensuring compliance with human rights standards, and in driving necessary improvements. However, in the absence of published reports, we remain in the dark about what is happening to people in prison.
“We particularly look forward to working with Mr. Kelly during the imminent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The Office of the Inspector of Prisons will require adequate resources to complete its work, especially in relation to its anticipated future enhanced remit. Almost 15 years have passed since Ireland signed up to the OPCAT. If the State is committed to upholding the rights of all people deprived of their liberty, it must ratify OPCAT without further delay.”
Ms. Brady added:
“We would also like to acknowledge the work of Mark Toland in leading the Office on an interim basis following the resignation of Patricia Gilheaney, the previous Chief Inspector, in February of this year. We would also acknowledge the extensive work of Ms. Gilheaney, who played a significant role in the expansion of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and always kept the rights of people in prison at the centre of the Office’s work.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort. See www.iprt.ie