10th August 2018
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Welcome to the fourth edition of the IPRT Ebulletin in 2018!
It continues to be a busy year, and I hope you are enjoying the summer.
Penal reform has received a lot of attention in public debate recently, with a number of key issues brought to the fore in the media. IPRT comment was featured in an Irish Examiner article about the accuracy of certain prison records, as documented in a number of Inspector of Prisons’ reports on investigations into deaths in custody; and IPRT also commented on the increase in Ireland’s prison population in 2018 following a period of decline in numbers, and in particular the persistent overcrowding in women’s prisons. IPRT also responded to the 2017 annual reports of the Irish Prison Service and Probation Service.
As part of our ongoing campaign to #ratifyOPCAT, IPRT welcomed the commitment made by Minister for Justice and Equality Mr Charles Flanagan TD in the Dáil on Thursday 5 July 2018 that legislation to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture will be introduced in 2018, and an OpEd was published in The Irish Times on 8 August emphasising that “ratification would signal to the world that we are serious about protecting the most vulnerable from ill-treatment”.
I am pleased to announce that IPRT’s 2018 AGM will take place on Thursday 20 September 2018 from 5.30pm-7pm in the Camden Court Hotel, Camden Street, Dublin 2. There will also be an exclusive members’ event following the AGM. See below for further details, and also for details on the AGM and how to renew your membership in advance.
Work is ongoing on our Consultation on the update of ‘Know Your Rights – Your Rights as a Prisoner’ Booklet, as well as the ‘Addressing the Over-Representation of Children in Care in the Criminal Justice System' project, and final preparations are being made for the launch of ‘Progress in the Penal System’ (PIPS) 2018 on 26 October 2018 in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission - save the date now and further details will be available soon.
There have been a number of changes in the office, with Intern Anna Flynn and UCD legal placement Erin Ward finishing their placements, and summer Intern Aisling Troy commencing hers, and providing valuable support to the IPRT team.
IPRT was also very pleased to welcome new team member Eoin Delap, who began as Development Manager this summer. Eoin will be responsible for IPRT’s fundraising and is working to ensure we have the resources to continue our mission and meet the evolving challenges in the penal system in the years ahead.
Thank you again for your ongoing support of IPRT, and I look forward to updating you on our projects and progress for the rest of the year.
As always, we welcome your feedback and comments. Contact Lorraine Whitty, Membership and Administration Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2018 IPRT AGM will take place on Thursday 20 September 2018 from 5.30pm-7pm in the Camden Court Hotel, Camden Street, Dublin 2. A map and directions to the venue can be accessed here.
A members’ event will take place after the AGM from 7.15pm, with a speaker to be announced, and will be followed by a drinks reception at 8pm. Our IPRT Annual Review 2017-2018 will also be launched at the AGM.
To attend the AGM and the members’ event, you must be a current member. You can renew your membership here. Alternatively, please contact Lorraine (details below) for assistance or with enquiries about your membership.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Lorraine Whitty, Membership & Administration Officer
IPRT welcomed the commitment made by Minister for Justice and Equality Mr Charles Flanagan TD in the Dáil on Thursday 5 July 2018 that legislation to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (the ‘OPCAT’) will be introduced in 2018. An OpEd by IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone published in The Irish Times on 8 August emphasises that “ratification would signal to the world that we are serious about protecting the most vulnerable from ill-treatment and bolster Ireland’s position on an international stage”.
The OPCAT is an international human rights treaty which assists States in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in all places of detention. It applies to anywhere people are deprived of their liberty. The ratification of OPCAT would positively impact the lives of vulnerable children and adults. See: www.opcat-ireland.com
Michelle Martyn, IPRT Senior Research and Policy Manager, has been working with the PIPS Advisory Group to finalise the ‘Progress in the Penal System’ (PIPS) 2018 report. This report is the second in a series of three annual reports, providing a comprehensive analysis of human rights and best practice in Ireland’s penal system. The report contains 35 standards against which the prevailing situation in Ireland’s penal system will be independently tracked, monitored and assessed on an annual basis.
The 2017 annual reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service Annual were launched by Minister for Justice and Equality Charles Flanagan, T.D. on 25 June 2018, along with the Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018-2020 and the Irish Prison Service and Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018-2020.
IPRT responded that recent improvements in the prison system are being undermined by overcrowding in Irish prisons, that the new probation and prisons strategies must be adequately resourced, and any new legislation introduced by Government must align with agreed penal policy.
For more on the reports, and IPRT’s response, see here.
IPRT engages in public debate and commentary to promote penal policy which is just, humane and evidence-led and uses prison as a last resort. Here is a selection of our media engagements over the last three months.
A. Media Coverage, 6 - 8 June 2018: Electronic Monitoring of Sex Offenders Post-Release
IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone was involved in a range of media discussions around the general outline of legislation providing for the electronic tagging of sex offenders approved by the Government.
B. Irish Legal News, 10 July 2018: ‘Forcing mentally ill prisoners to sleep on prison floors branded ‘unacceptable’’
IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone speaks to Irish Legal News in response to an Irish Times article reporting on conditions for mentally ill prisoners.
C. Newstalk, 10 July 2018: ‘Time for change? Women and mothers in the Irish prison system’
A radio report (and accompanying written report) on the imprisonment of women and mothers in the Dóchas Centre by Simon Tierney for the Moncrieff Show.
D. The Irish Times, 6th August 2018: ‘Sharp Increase in Irish prison population’
The Irish Times has published an article and an editorial detailing the sharp increase in Ireland’s prison population in 2018, following years of decline and stability.
E. The Irish Examiner, 7 August 2018: ‘Inmate deaths lead to call for culture change’, by Cormac O’Keefe
The Irish Examiner has reported on concerns highlighted by two previous prison inspectors around the accuracy of records being kept by prison officers.
F. The Irish Times, 8 August 2018: OpEd 'Ireland has not ratified a protocol to prevent torture in places of detention’
An OpEd by IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone in The Irish Times discusses Ireland’s failure to ratify OPCAT.
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.
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?
By becoming a Friend of IPRT and making an annual contribution of €250 or more over a 3-year period, you are making a real, meaningful investment in the work that we do. Your pledge will help to secure our core work, ensuring that IPRT can and will continue to advocate for positive penal policy reform in Ireland. Become a Friend here in three simple, secure steps.
IPRT relies on donations from charitable trusts, individual donations and membership subscriptions to cover operational costs. Our CHY number is 11091.
We have also received funding from two donor-advised funds and two project funds managed by the Community Foundation for Ireland, we were one of the awardees for the inaugural Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and we received a donation from the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Community Giving & Charitable Funds 2017.
IPRT is also grateful for core funding from the following: