25th September 2020
A joint statement from the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice:
The Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice are alarmed today by reports in the national press about the culture and environment endured by female prisoners and staff in the Dóchas Centre at Mountjoy. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any inhumane treatment of prisoners, and especially so during a pandemic when the resources made available to prisoners are curtailed.
Chaplaincy is a pivotal service within the prison environment and both organisations are dismayed to hear reports that suggest systemic marginalisation and undermining of this office. We call on the Department of Justice to initiate a thorough and transparent review to address the concerns that have been raised in both today’s media reports, as well as those detailed in media coverage of unpublished Prison Chaplain annual reports in recent weeks.
We believe that the lack of published prison inspection reports has potentially created an environment where everyone in the prison system, staff and prisoners alike, are vulnerable to mistreatment. A strong commitment was made by Minister for Justice Ms Helen McEntee TD to resourcing the new Framework for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland last week, and we welcome this. It is essential that a programme of robust prison inspections is now commenced, and that reports by the Inspector of Prisons and Prison Visiting Committees are published in a timely fashion.
Fíona Ní Chinnéide
Irish Penal Reform Trust
CONTACT: +353 (0) 87 181 2990
Social Justice Advocate
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
CONTACT: +353 (0) 86 165 2917
NOTES TO EDITORS