The past few months have been very exciting for IPRT with our new Executive Director, Saoirse Brady, joining and settling into the team. It would be an understatement to say Saoirse’s first couple of months with us have been extremely busy! This edition of the Ebulletin is packed with info, including: opportunities to join our team, recent highlights, updates on our recent submissions, and news from the sector. We’ve also included a short message from Saoirse, our Executive Director.
As always, feel free to get in touch with any feedback or comments on our work. The best way to get real-time updates on our work is to join us on social media.
It is a huge honour for me to be chosen by the Board to lead IPRT.
I have long admired the work of IPRT and now having led out on that work in recent months, my passion and vision for change in this area has been amplified. While I’m so proud of all we have been working on in recent months, I am particularly focused on the future of IPRT. We have achieved so much, with the support of our members and peers in the sector, but much remains to be done. We have made real progress in helping decision-makers understand the issues facing people in the system, but there is a road ahead to work on this. Understanding of the issues – through hearing lived experience, evidence-based research, and campaigning – is crucial to achieving change.
One of my key priorities in the months ahead is building an ambitious new Strategic Plan for the organisation. Work is well underway on this; I am excited to share it with you. I sincerely look forward to meeting and working alongside many of you in the years ahead!
Saoirse Brady Executive Director
IPRT Recruitment: Three opportunities to join our team!
IPRT is incredibly lucky to have an excellent staff team. However, some of our team are moving on to exciting new opportunities. With this, several vacancies have arisen within the team. Please feel free to share the opportunities below with your networks!
Project Coordinator: Children and Families Initiative
We’re recruiting for the exciting brand-new role of Project Coordinator for IPRT’s Children and Families Initiative. The successful candidate will be responsible for leading, coordinating and implementing the Initiative over a three-year period. Closing date for applications has been extended to 12pm (noon) on Monday 12 September 2022. Full details here.
Policy and Research Coordinator
This is a key function within our team, developing and coordinating our comprehensive body of evidence-led research and policy outputs to influence public and political debate. A core aspect of the role is leading on the research and delivery of IPRT’s flagship project, ‘Progress in the Penal System’. Closing date for applications is 5pm Monday 26 September 2022. Full details here.
This is a key role within our team, working to ensure that our comprehensive body of evidence-led research and policy reaches key audiences. This is a high-paced proactive and reactive role, where every day will bring a new challenge and opportunity to influence penal reform. Closing date for applications is 5pm Monday 26 September 2022.Full details here.
The 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Irish Penal Reform Trust will take place on Wednesday 21st September 2022 from 5.45pm – 7pm in Dublin. This is the first in-person AGM since 2019 – we’re really looking forward to meeting our members again and catching you up on everything we’ve been working on! All active members have been contacted directly about the AGM with further details.
This will be a great opportunity for our members to meet our staff and Board reflect on the year and hear about what’s planned for the year ahead. The IPRT Annual Review 2021-2022 will also be launched at the AGM.
AGM attendance and participation is open to all current members of IPRT. If you would like to become a member or renew your membership, you can do so here or by contacting us on email@example.com or +353 (0)1 8741400.
Last week, Government published the long-awaited ‘Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform 2022-2024’. In general, it represents a comprehensive and ambitious roadmap to transform not only the prison system as we know it but the entire penal system. IPRT particularly welcomes the clear focus on community-based sanctions and alternatives to custody.
This progressive plan is the culmination of years (if not decades!) of work by IPRT and others in the sector to present evidence of what works to reduce crime and make communities safer. Thank you to all of you who have supported our efforts or echoed our calls.
While we welcome the plan’s commitment to invest in modernising and updating the prison estate, which will help to ensure that every person in prison has adequate facilities and that their dignity is upheld, it is important that we do not simply create more prison spaces to fill. IPRT will remain alert and ready to counteract any potential regressive steps in this space.
Read our full response, where we welcome certain aspects and flag some of our initial concerns, on our website. Saoirse detailed IPRT’s views on Newstalk Breakfast the morning after the Review was published. Listen back to the short interview here.
Consideration and questioning of Ireland by the UN Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) took place on 4 – 5 July 2022. As part of the session, IPRT was represented in Geneva by IPRT Executive Director, Saoirse Brady, who engaged with the UN Human Rights Committee in both formal and informal private sessions in advance of the State’s review by the Committee. IPRT also submitted an Alternative Report to the review process.
The Human Rights Committee has since published its Concluding Observations on Ireland, with a clear focus on issues pertaining to people deprived of their liberty including prison overcrowding, access to adequate mental healthcare, the failure to publish reports relating to the Dóchas Centre, the overrepresentation of Travellers in the penal system and the need to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). This speaks to the importance of IPRT’s work on an international stage. Read our response to the Concluding Observations here.
We have been hard at work making submissions to various domestic and international processes. We continue to be invited to provide written and/or oral evidence to different Oireachtas Committees – this is a testament to the value placed on our evidence-based work by key stakeholders. A couple of the key submissions and engagements are below – for more, visit our website.
General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill 2022 (August 2022)
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) welcomed the publication of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill by the Minister for Justice in late June. This legislation, intended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (‘OPCAT’), is long-awaited. As many of you will be aware, this has been a key campaigning area for IPRT for many years. IPRT made a comprehensive initial submission on the General Scheme with 36 recommendations. You can read it in full – or just the recommendations – on our website. IPRT will continue to review the General Scheme of the Bill carefully in the coming weeks, with a particular focus on ensuring that the provisions of the legislation are sufficient to comply with OPCAT. We anticipate that there will be a lot of further work on the Bill and we will continue working with all key stakeholders, insofar as possible, to develop an effective piece of legislation which strongly protects all people deprived of their liberty in Ireland.
Review of Prison Visiting Committees (August 2022)
Prison Visiting Committees (PVCs) can play a crucial role in ensuring that people in prison are treated appropriately and afforded their human rights. Given this, we welcomed the recent public consultation on PVCs, to examine their existing functions, powers, appointment procedures, and reporting processes. In total, the IPRT submission to the consultation makes eight overarching recommendations for reform. Read it here.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (August 2022)
IPRT recently welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to supplement Ireland’s fifth and sixth combined reports under Article 44 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Our submission focuses on youth justice (<18) and children with a family member in prison in Ireland. In total, the submission makes 22 recommendations spread across these two areas. If you’re passionate about our work in either of these areas, the submission will be of interest to you! We will be attending the pre-session in September with Committee members.
Joint Committee on Disability Matters (June 2022)
IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady and Senior Policy and Research Officer Sarahjane McCreery appeared before the Joint Committee on Disability Matters on 23 June as part of an examination of ‘Accessing Justice’. Find our opening statement and a video of the hearing here.
All-Party Oireachtas Group on Penal Reform meeting on women in prison
The third meeting of the All-Party Oireachtas Group on Penal Reform took place on Wednesday 6 July 2022 in the AV Room of Leinster House. The focus of the meeting was the imprisonment of women. This was a closed meeting for members of the Oireachtas and their staff. We were delighted to invite women from the SAOL Project to speak directly to legislators about opportunities for reform in this area, based on their own experiences. More information about this meeting – including more details of speakers and issues discussed – is available here.
Action for Children and Families
Work continues apace on our Action for Children and Families network! You can read more about the work of the network on the dedicated network website www.actionforfamilies.ie
CSO Prison Recidivism 2016 and 2019 cohorts (June 2022)
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) recently published statistics on recidivism (reoffending) by those released from prison in 2016 and 2019. For further analysis of the data, see our website.
Oberstown Annual Report 2021 (July 2022)
Oberstown has published its annual report for the year 2021. The report outlines several key developments made in providing care for young people in custody, in addition to progression pathways for those leaving the facility.
Recruitment: Inspector in the Office of the Inspector of Prisons
In preparation for its future remit in inspecting places of custody including prisons, Garda Síochána Stations and other places of detention across the criminal justice sector, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons is growing. The Office has several vacancies for Inspectors. More information on publicjobs.ie
ACJRD 25th Annual Conference – 7th October 2022
This year’s conference, “Gender Encounters in the Criminal Justice System:How does Gender Impact Diverse Experiences?”will take place in person in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin 2. Our Executive Director, Saoirse, will be one of the plenary speakers! All the details are on the ACJRD website, and registration is set to open shortly.
Invitation to Tender: Service Evaluation
Depaul, in conjunction with the Probation Service, wishes to commission an independent evaluation of Tus Nua to inform current and future development of the both the site and service. Closing date: 12 noon, 23rd September 2022. Details here.
‘Conversations on the Margins’ by Senator Lynn Ruane
We mentioned this podcast to you before, but it’s so good we thought we would flag it again! The podcast, recorded in Wheatfield Prison, features meaningful conversations and discussions about life, family, art, music and more. Not only was IPRT involved in the development of the podcast, funded by The Rowan Trust, but our Senior Policy and Research Officer, Sarahjane, was featured in Chapter 8 of the podcast discussing the work of IPRT. You can listen back wherever you get your podcasts, but here are the links to tune in on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Add your voice - become a Friend or Member
IPRT relies on a network of committed supporters who share our vision for change. By becoming a Friend or Member of IPRT, you add your voice to our campaign for a more humane and equitable penal system.
To find out more about supporting our work, please visit our Friends or Membership pages.
IPRT relies on donations from charitable trusts, individual donations and membership subscriptions to cover operational costs. We have also received funding from donor-advised funds and project funds managed by the Community Foundation for Ireland and project funding from the Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
IPRT receives core funding from:
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