Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #87

7th September 2016

  1. Introduction
  2. IPRT AGM & Members Event: Thursday 22nd September 2016, Camden Court Hotel, 6pm- 7.30pm
  3. Save the Date: Older People in Prison
  4. Round-Up: Industrial Action at Oberstown Youth Detention Centre
  5. IPRT Team: Entrances
  6. Cork Alliance Centre: Conference on Desistance from Crime
  7. Opening of Cork Prison
  8. Become a Member

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Welcome to the fourth edition of the IPRT Ebulletin in 2016. The summer period has been a busy one, with preparations for our upcoming AGM and members event on 22nd September and the forthcoming launch of our report on Older Prisoners on 30th September. IPRT was pleased to attend the opening of Cork Prison in July 2016, and at the fact this means the end of slopping out in Cork Prison. Industrial action at Oberstown Child Detention School has gained extensive media coverage, and the IPRT has called on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Oberstown Management and trade unions to resolve the industrial relations issues immediately in order to ensure that their collective duty to the children in their care is fulfilled.

IPRT continues to work towards its objectives in the areas of: reducing the use of imprisonment; strengthening transparency and accountability in the penal system; and ensuring the protection of human rights in prison, while maintaining a commitment to full transparency and accountability.

Upcoming dates for your diaries include the IPRT Annual General Meeting on 22nd September, and the launch of a new report on the rights and needs of older people in prison on 30th September to coincide with the International Day of Older Persons, which falls on 1st Oct. Full details will be sent out to all members soon ~ and we look forward to meeting you then.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments:

IPRT AGM & Members Event: Thursday 22nd September 2016, Camden Court Hotel, 6pm-7.30pm

We are delighted to inform you about our upcoming AGM which will take place on Thursday 22 September 2016 in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin 2 from 6pm-7.30pm. A map and directions to the venue can be accessed here.

AGM attendance and participation is open to all current members, and members should have received their AGM mailings by now (let us know if you haven’t). If you would like to become a member or renew your membership, you can do so here or by contacting Lorraine Whitty, Membership & Administration Officer, on or 01-8741400.

Also in preparation for AGM the IPRT Board invites nominations from the Membership for two additional new Board members to be elected at IPRT’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday 22 September 2016. We are specifically seeking individuals with expertise in our areas of current identified need, namely (1) drugs and health policy and (2) human resources. If you believe you have this expertise or if you know a person who you believe would be suitable, then fill in the form enclosed in the membership packs and return it to IPRT as soon as possible and in any event before noon on Thursday, 15 September.

CAP Logo

We are delighted to also invite you to an exclusive members’ only event directly after the AGM. Stephen Doyle, Founder and Director of Services of Care After Prison will address members on his lived experience of imprisonment, the story around the founding of CAP and his current work with ex-offenders. It promises to be an extremely interesting event and we do hope you can stay to hear his story and learn more about his valuable work.

For more information on any of the above, contact Lorraine Whitty, Membership & Administration Officer, on or 01-8741400.  


Save the Date: Older People in Prison Report Launch, Friday 30th September 2016, Ashling Hotel

Older Prisoners

On 30th September 2016, the eve of U.N. International Day of Older Persons, IPRT will launch a new report on The Rights, Needs and Experiences of Older People in Prison in Ireland. (Photo credit: Ron Levine)

The number of older people in Irish prisons has increased considerably in recent years and this group now represents a substantial minority within the Irish prison system. Latest figures indicate that almost 10% of people in prison custody today are over the age of 50 (Irish Prison Service, 2015).

Older people in prison are a particularly vulnerable group, and they face a wide range of issues which are different from those faced by the general prison population. The report examines these issues across six main themes:

  • physical and mental health needs;
  • mobility and the physical environment;
  • social care needs;
  • bullying and victimisation;
  • participation in prison programmes;
  • release planning and resettlement.

The report offers clear recommendations based on best practice examples and the recommendations of the research participants and professional stakeholders.

This report is based on research commissioned by IPRT and conducted by Joanna Joyce and Dr Tina Maschi.

Full details will follow shortly - for now, mark your diaries!

Register for the event here.

IPRT is very grateful to the St Stephen's Green Trust for generously supporting this research.


Round-Up: Industrial Action at Oberstown Youth Detention Centre

IPRT welcomed the announcement on 5th September 2016 that industrial action planned for that day, at the Oberstown Youth Detention Centre, had been deferred. Further strikes had been scheduled to take place for the following three weeks, but have been postponed to allow talks to place between union representatives and management on Monday 5th September. IPRT await the outcome of these talks, and calls on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Oberstown Management and trade unions to resolve the industrial relations issues immediately in order to ensure that their collective duty to the children in their care is fulfilled.

On Monday 29 August, industrial action involving an eight-hour stoppage by staff at Oberstown Child Detention School took place, leaving residents confined to their rooms. During the stoppage, an incident occurred in which a number of residents climbed to the roof of a building and a fire broke out on the campus. Throughout the week IPRT has raised its concerns in response to the industrial action and the detrimental impact it may have on the children and young people detained in Oberstown.

IPRT wishes to be absolutely clear that we do not take any position on the dispute itself, which is a labour relations issue. Rather, it is concerned with respecting the rights of children and young people and ensuring their safety and well-being. It urges open dialogue between all parties concerned - staff, management, and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, TD - to ensure a swift resolution to concerns raised by staff regarding health and safety.

Read more:

Listen back:

Appearance by IPRT Executive Director, Deirdre Malone, on Morning Ireland, found here. (31 August 2016)

Find more views of key stakeholders on this dispute below:


IPRT Team: Entrances

There were a number of changes within the IPRT office team over July and August 2016.

Stephen Byrne joined the IPRT team as an intern in July 2016, and Aoife Hyde and Neil Rafter joined as interns in August and September, bringing new perspectives and experiences to the IPRT team. During August, we conducted recruitment for a Senior Research & Policy Projects Manager, to which we got a great response, and we hope to complete shortlisting soon so watch this space.

IPRT has also secured dedicated funding for an exciting new human rights project, part of which will include the production of a flagship annual publication on human rights in prison, due to be first published in 2017. The Senior Research and Policy Project Manager will be centrally involved in the initial methodology design, research and delivery of the substantive content of this publication.


Cork Alliance Centre: Conference on Desistance from Crime

“Narrowing the Disconnect – the Ethics of Supporting Desistance from Crime”, September 15th and 16th, 2016, Firkin Crane, Cork City

IPRT is delighted to be attending the Cork Alliance Centre conference on the theme of ‘Narrowing the Disconnect – the Ethics of Supporting Desistance from Crime’ this autumn. This is the second conference hosted by the Cork Alliance Centre and follows on from the 2013 conference ‘The Journey of Desistance’. President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins made the conference keynote address.

Central to the conference will be the lived experience of past and present Cork Alliance Centre service users. Together with a new documentary made with the Centre's service users, five people who have accessed the Cork Alliance Centre services will present at the conference.

International speakers include: Allan Weaver, Professor Shadd Maruna and Professor Joanna Shapland. Speakers from Ireland will include Dr Deirdre Healy, Vivian Geiran, Director of the Probation Service and Michael Donnellan, Director General of the Irish Prison Service.

For more information on the Cork Alliance Centre and the conference, click here.


Opening of Cork Prison

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD performed the official opening of the new Cork Prison Monday 18th July 2016, which IPRT attended.

The building of a new prison to replace the unfit conditions that existed in the old Cork Prison, during a time of limited fiscal resources, demonstrates a real commitment by the Tánaiste and the Department of Justice to addressing serious human rights issues in Irish prisons, including slopping out and overcrowding. IPRT strongly welcomes this.

The new prison has an official capacity of 296, with in-cell sanitation in all cells and improved facilities, including outdoor green spaces and family visiting facilities. However, while welcoming the significant improvements, IPRT is disappointed that the new prison operates a cell-sharing policy, and not single cell accommodation which is best practice and supports safer prisons.

It is essential now that the significant capital investment in the new Cork Prison is met with adequate medical, education and training resources to ensure that prison regimes in Cork can support the Irish Prison Service mission of providing safe and secure custody, supporting better rehabilitation and public safety.

It also important that recent community-based initiatives that have safely reduced the numbers in prison - such as the Community Return Programme and, in particular, Unlocking Community Alternatives- A Cork Approach- continue, and are adequately resourced and regularly evaluated.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Tánaiste restated her commitments to abolishing slopping out in Irish prisons completely, with refurbishment plans at Limerick and Portlaoise Prisons at an advanced stage. Since 2011, the number of men slopping out in prison in Ireland has been reduced from just over 1,000 to around 55 today. That is welcome progress.

Previous IPRT comment:

Read more:


Become a Member

Would you like to become a member of IPRT?
Annual membership is just €10 for students, €40 for individuals, €80 for organisations/firms, and free to prisoners and their families.

We can’t promise you lots of free stuff, but by becoming a member of IPRT you will be expressing your support for urgent penal reform in Ireland. Why not consider becoming an IPRT member now?

IPRT receives core funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and:


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



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