Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #82

16th November 2015

  1. Introduction
  2. IPRT Conference: Securing Accountability
  3. New Publication: IPRT Position Paper on Bail and Remand
  4. Recent Developments
  5. Join IPRT and support our work!
  6. Contact

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Dear Members and Friends, Just a short ebulletin this month to highlight our upcoming event: Securing Accountability: Building effective prisons inspection, monitoring, and complaints systems which takes place Friday 27th November in the Spencer Hotel, Dublin 1. This event will explore effective methods of external oversight of what happens behind prison walls. We are delighted to announce that Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD has agreed to open the conference. Confirmed speakers in our exciting line up of national and international experts include HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick OBE and Prof. Malcolm Evans, Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture. There is great interest in the event, so registration is recommended. Find out more here.

The IPRT AGM for 2015 takes place the previous evening, Thurs 26th Nov 2015, from 4-6pm in the Spencer Hotel. We encourage all IPRT members to attend the AGM and to engage with IPRT board and staff as we discuss the organisation's future beyond 2016. For more details, contact Marie Therese at or tel: 01-8741400.

Other news includes the publication of a new IPRT Position Paper 11: Bail and Remand; contributions by IPRT to Oireachtas Justice Committee discussions on bail legislation, the EU Victims Directive, and decriminalisation of certain drugs; the publication of the inspector of Prison's Prison Culture Report and recent report on a prison death, and more.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments:


IPRT Conference: Securing Accountability

Monitoring, Inspection, and Complaints in the Irish prison system

IPRT is delighted to announce a major conference on prison accountability, which will take place on Friday 27th November 2015 in the Spencer Hotel, Spencer Dock, Dublin 1.

We are delighted to announce that Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD has agreed to open the conference.

Monitoring and inspection of places of detention, as well as independent external mechanisms for the review of prisoners’ complaints and robust systems of investigation of deaths in prison custody, are central to the protection of human rights of prisoners and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law.

This timely examination of the current situation in Ireland, and the potential options for improving and strengthening accountability structures behind bars, will contribute to ensuring that Ireland both meets and exceeds our obligations to protect human rights behind prison walls.

International speakers:

  • Nick Hardwick, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons
  • Professor Malcolm Evans,Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture
  • Professor Andrew Coyle, Emeritus Professor of Prison Studies in the University of London

Speakers from Ireland:

  • Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly
  • Dr Mary Rogan, Head of Law, DIT
  • Stephen Doyle, Director of Services, Care after Prison
  • Deirdre Malone, Executive Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust

A panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Cormac Behan (University of Sheffield), will include senior representatives from the Dept of Justice and Equality and the Irish Prison Service, including:

  • Mr Jimmy Martin, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Justice
  • Mr Fergal Black, Director of Care and Rehabilitation, Irish Prison Service
  • Mr John Clinton, General Secretary, Irish Prison Officers Association

Venue: Spencer Hotel, Spencer Dock, Dublin 1

Date: Friday 27th November, 2015

Time: 09.30 - 16.00 (tbc) 

Registration fees:

  • €30 (non-member)
  • €20 (member)
  • €10 (student/unwaged)
  • free for former prisoners

Registration fees are to cover the costs of light lunch and tea/coffee through the day. IPRT relies on funding and donations to carry out our work - thank you for your support.

Register for the conference here.We hope to see you there!


New Publication: Bail and Remand

f95c1587-7a41-40ad-90d7-8997aebd194d.jpgIPRT and the Irish Criminal Bar Association (ICBA) co-hosted a seminar on 'Bail Reform ~ Rights and Risks' on Wednesday 11th November 2015 in the Criminal Courts of Justice.

This event was timed to coincide with the intense media, political and parliamentary scrutiny of Ireland’s current bail laws and proposed legislative reforms. A new IPRT Position Paper on Bail and Remand was launched as part of the event, and is available to download here.

The Hon. Mr. Justice Paul Butler chaired the event, which was extremely well attended. Speakers included:

  • Mr John Lonergan, Retired Governor of Mountjoy Prison and IPRT Advocate: “Restricting the right to Bail: Consequence for Prison Conditions”
  • Mr Michael O’Higgins SC speaking on a paper by Jim McCullough BL: "The media and criminal practice: aspects of impact and interaction"
  • Ms Shalom Binchy, Chair of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee: “Bail Reform: A Solicitor’s Perspective”
  • Ms Deirdre Malone, Executive Director IPRT: “Bail Reform: Upholding Rights, Managing Risks”

LawLibrary42c9cb9d9f5c.jpgA drinks reception followed the event, kindly sponsored by the Bar of Ireland.


Friends of IPRT


IPRT recently launched Friends of IPRT, a growing network of people who believe in a better, more fair and more humane penal system in Ireland.

Invest in IPRT – secure our future

At present IPRT relies on the support of a small number of foundations, grant-making bodies and individual donations to fund the work that we do. In 2016 funding commitments from two of our core funders will end, which will have a significant impact on the capacity of the organisation going forward.

IPRT already operates on an extremely lean model, and we know that most significant policy successes we have achieved to date have been directly correlated to the resources, skills and capacity available to us.

To find out more about becoming a Friend of IPRT, visit the website here. Alternatively, contact: Deirdre Malone, Executive Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust at:


Recent Developments

a. Culture and Organisation in the Irish Prison Service - A Road Map for the Future

On Tuesday 3rd November 2015, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons published its review of the Irish Prison Service entitled Culture and Organisation in the Irish Prison Service - A Road Map for the Future. On its publication, IPRT called for “swift and decisive action” on implementing the recommendations arising. More details about the report are available here.

b. Report on an Investigation into the Death of Prisoner B - 2013

The latest report on an investigation by the Inspector of Prisons into a death occurring in prison custody was published by the Minister for Justice and Equality on 9th November 2015. The report raises a number of serious issues, not least: poor cell-sharing risk assessment; the presence of contraband articles in the cell; and the lack of an internal review of prison procedures following the death of the prisoner.On its publication, IPRT called on the Minister for Justice and Equality to introduce a statutory mechanism whereby recommendations arising from investigations into prison deaths by the Inspector of Prisons are implemented and enforced.

d. HIQA Follow Up Inspection Report on Oberstown Children Detention Schools

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is concerned at the slow pace of progress in implementing key HIQA recommendations at the Oberstown Children Detention Schools, revealed in the Follow Up Inspection Report of the facility published 22nd October 2015. Among the most serious concerns are: 

  • the excessive use of single separation as a response to negative behaviour;
  • failure to conduct fire safety training and drills with the young people;
  • very low provision of offending behaviour programmes; and
  • inconsistencies in care planning and medication management.

While the report identifies strong efforts by management to address issues raised in previous HIQA inspection reports, progress in effecting improvements at the facility continues to be very slow. Read IPRT's response here.


~ We need YOU ~

Be part of something effective

If you value the contribution IPRT has made over recent years, and believe our work should continue into the future, please consider showing your support by becoming a member or by making a donation.You can find out more about what we have achieved and how we have achieved it here.

There are many other ways that you can become involved in the movement for progressive penal reform in Ireland. Find out here.


Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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