9th October 2023
Dear members and supporters,
Welcome to another quarterly edition of the IPRT Ebulletin!
Since you last heard from us, we have held our AGM, launched our pre-budget submission for Budget 2024, been awarded funding for a future project, made submissions, presented to an Oireachtas committee and have been getting our messages out in the media.
Below we’ve also included our work on children and families of people in prison, recent publications of interest, news from the sector and lots more.
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.
All the best,
IPRT Communications Officer
IPRT presented to the Joint Committee on Justice for Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Irish Prison Service Bill to discuss our submission to the Committee in relation to the Bill on Tuesday 3 October 2023 alongside the Prison Officers Association at Leinster House. IPRT has long called for the placement of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) as an independent prisons authority on a statutory basis and welcomed the opportunity to discuss this with legislators.
IPRT's Executive Director, Saoirse Brady, and IPRT's Legal and Public Affairs Manager, Helen Kehoe, presented an overview of our submission and answered questions from politicians at the committee meeting.
L: IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady. R: IPRT Legal and Public Affairs Manager, Helen Kehoe.
IPRT published our pre-Budget submission which aims to help alleviate overcrowding and improve undignified conditions ahead of Budget 2024.
Key budget asks include funding solutions that would reduce overcrowding, support families of people in prison, reintegrate women who have been in prison custody back into their communities, address healthcare needs across the areas of mental health and addiction and encourage education in prison to reduce recidivism. The Submission has been acknowledged by a number of key stakeholders.
The 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of IPRT took place in-person in Outhouse, Capel Street, Dublin on Wednesday 20 September 2023. At the AGM, reports on activities and developments during 2022–2023 were presented to members present by Chairperson Dr Seamus Taylor and Executive Director Saoirse Brady. Treasurer Kevin Gregory gave a financial report for the year ended 31 December 2022. The IPRT Annual Review 2022–2023 was presented at the AGM. Read the round-up of the event here.
IPRT staff L-R: Paula Dempsey, Ashling Tobin, Pamela Drumgoole, Saoirse Brady, Helen Kehoe, Michelle Byrne
We have been engaging with many stakeholders over the last number of weeks pushing forward the agenda of progressive penal reform.
IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady welcomed Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffery to IPRT HQ to discuss our shared priorities. We look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with the Irish Prison Service.
IPRT also met with Deputy Alan Farrell, who joins Ivana Bacik as the new Co-Chair of the IPRT All Party Oireachtas Group on Penal Reform. The Group will be holding their next meeting for Oireachtas members this month.
Since returning from maternity leave at the beginning of September, Saoirse has also met with Mark Wilson, Director of the Probation Service as well as Ben Ryan, Head of Policy for Criminal Justice with the Department of Justice to get updates on their work related to our strategic objectives.
L: IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady with Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffery. R: Deputy Alan Farrell with IPRT Helen Kehoe and Saoirse Brady.
We are pleased to announce that IPRT is one of 30 recipients of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s (IHREC) Human Rights and Equality Grant 2023-2024.
IPRT's project, 'Know Your Rights: Access to Justice and Rights for People in Prison', involves organising a conference to build understanding of prisoners’ rights among those working to support people in prison, in particular migrant and ethnic minority people and build capacity to better advocate for the vindication of these rights. We also aim to more widely disseminate the Prisoners’ Know Your Rights booklet to increase further awareness and understanding. We look forward to updating you further as we develop the project.
The Action for Children and Families of Prisoners Network has continued to meet regularly this quarter.
Members of the Network have been progressing the collaborative book project which will work with children who have experience of a parent in prison.
The Network responded to news of cancelled prison visits in Castlerea Prison, particularly noting the impact this has in relation to visits from children and family members.
Multiple discussions concerning the issues Network members are seeing across their work were collated into a letter to the Irish Prison Service, resulting in a meeting with the Director General Caron McCaffery in September.
Read more about the work of the Action for Children and Families of Prisoners Network on its dedicated website.
Our amazing Deputy Director, Legal and Public Affairs Manager Molly Joyce has finished up with IPRT, after three years of supporting us to achieve our goals. We thank her so much for her work and wish her every success in her next adventure! We would also like to wish Paula Dempsey, our Governance and Administration Officer all the best as she leaves us this month to take up a new role.
L-R: Saoirse Brady, Paula Dempsey, Michelle Byrne, Helen Kehoe, Pamela Drumgoole, Molly Joyce.
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.
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 the Scheme to Fund National Organisations which is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development.