Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #99

14th December 2018

IPRT Ebulletin

  1. Introduction
  2. Christmas Wishes
  3. 2018 Year in Review
  4. Progressing Inside? PIPS 2018
  5. #ratifyOPCAT Seminar
  6. Bail (Amendment) Bill 2017: IPRT appearance at Justice and Equality Committee
  7. Making the News 
  8. Penal Reform Developments
  9. Become a Member or a Friend of IPRT

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Welcome to the sixth and final edition of the IPRT E-bulletin in 2018!

IPRT launched our second annual Progress in the Penal System report (PIPS 2018) on 26 October 2018. We were pleased to see such high levels of representation and engagement from key stakeholders at the event, and look forward to engaging further on the findings of the report in early 2019. Read more below.

As part of our on-going campaign to #ratifyOPCAT, IPRT was pleased to welcome Ms. Laura Paton (Lead Inspector, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland) to speak at our Prison Law Seminar on 12 November to share her practical experience of ratifying OPCAT and creation of the National Preventative Mechanism. IPRT also made a submission to the UN Committee against Torture on Ireland’s one year follow-up to its second periodic report under CAT, click here.

IPRT was invited to address the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on Wednesday 5 December when the Committee conducted detailed scrutiny of the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2017.

This was another extremely busy period for IPRT on the airwaves and in print, with a number of key issues brought to the fore in public debate. IPRT responded to the Minister for Justice and Equality launching an investigation into serious allegations of alleged covert surveillance of prisons and prisoner transport. Newstalk documentary 'Mary and the Joy' discussed the importance of relationship-based care in Irish prisons. Also of serious concern is the continuing overcrowding at Cloverhill Prison, with prisoners forced to sleep on floors due to lack of space, and the attendant impact on prisoner and staff safety, as well as access to educational and other opportunities.

As 2018 draws to a close, we look forward to another busy year for IPRT in 2019. As part of our 25th birthday celebrations we will issue the updated Know Your Rights – Your Rights as a Prisoner booklet. The research examining the extent of, and the reasons for the over-representation of children in care or with care experience in the criminal justice system in Ireland will be launched in late February, and a new IHREC-funded project on Making Rights Real for those with Experience of Disabilities in Detention is commencing – not to mention work on producing Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) 2019.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your ongoing support of IPRT, and wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas. The IPRT team looks forward to keeping you updated on our projects and progress in the New Year.

Deirdre Malone
Executive Director

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments. Contact Lorraine Whitty, Membership and Administration Officer:


Christmas Wishes 2018



2018 Year in Review

Annual Review 2017-2018 Cover cropped

During 2018 we have continued to work to maintain our national impact, to raise awareness, and to challenge the status quo.

The last 12 months have been a period of growth in the organisation: our team has grown to the largest in our history, with six staff members working in research and policy, communications, campaigns, advocacy, fundraising and administrative support. While now large by IPRT standards, we are still a very small organisation by national standards, but one which continues to strive to punch well above its weight.

Here are just some of the highlights from 2018:

Seminars & Events

IPRT staff also delivered many presentations, conference papers and guest lectures at conferences, in prisons, to the new prison officer recruits, and to university students around Ireland in 2018.


IPRT made oral and written submissions to national and international processes throughout 2018. The following are just a small number of highlights: 

Research Projects

During 2018, IPRT worked on a number of discrete research projects:


An important part of our work is engaging with the general public and media on relevant penal reform issues: 

  • 6 e-bulletins;
  • 25+ broadcast interviews (TV and radio);
  • 50+ print & online news stories.


IPRT was also very pleased to welcome new team member Eoin Delap, who began as Development Manager this summer. Eoin is responsible for IPRT’s fundraising and is working to ensure we have the resources to continue our mission and meet emerging challenges in the penal system in the years ahead.

All of this work was achieved alongside responding to queries from prisoners and their families, answering queries from people with unspent convictions, constant monitoring of media, policy and relevant legislation, together with all the day-to-day work that comes with running an organisation.

This is only achievable with such a small team through hard work and dedication, and also with the support of our volunteer board and interns!

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, becoming a Friend of IPRT or simply making a donation.

If you would like to know more about how we spend donations, please contact Deirdre Malone, our Executive Director at:


Launch of PIPS 2018

PIPS 2018 cover cropped

On Friday 26th October 2018, IPRT launched the second report in our Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) series at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. At the launch, analysis of progress against the 35 standards set out in PIPS 2017 was examined, while three ‘spotlight’ areas were highlighted: mental health; women; and staff training and relationships.

The PIPS project has been crucial in highlighting the barriers faced by those in prison in Ireland, particularly when it comes to accessing education and mental health supports. PIPS 2018 has further emphasised the need to keep consistent focus on these important aspects of penal reform, as it demonstrates that much progress is still to be made in many of the 35 standards set out in 2017.

The launch was part of a seminar, Progressing inside? Ireland’s prison system in 2018 which was chaired by Prof Aislinn O’Donnell and included inputs from the Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney; Caron McCaffrey, Director of Corporate Affairs, Irish Prison Service; and Vivian Geiran, Director of the Probation Service.

Access the online version of PIPS 2018 here. Print editions of PIPS 2018 can be requested by emailing

This 3-year flagship project is kindly supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland.

CFI new logo 2018


#ratifyOPCAT Seminar

As part of our ongoing #ratifyOPCAT campaign, IPRT co-hosted a seminar with the Irish Criminal Bar Association on 12th November 2018 in the Ormond Meeting Rooms on Ormond Quay, Dublin 7.

Despite signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in 2007, the Irish State is yet to ratify it. The enactment of strong legislation, covering a broad range of detention facilities, is essential in order to ensure the safeguarding of human rights and effective prevention of torture in all places of detention in Ireland. The seminar provided an opportunity for practitioners to engage with practical experience of ratifying OPCAT and implementation of the National Preventative Mechanism.

Speakers at the event were Mr. Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties; Ms Laura Paton, Lead Inspector at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland; Mr Michael Lynn S.C; and Ms. Fiona McNulty of Michael Kelleher Solicitors.

The floor was then opened up for attendees to contribute to the discussion and resulted in a wide-range of responses regarding issues such as disability, mental health and older people, and highlighted the need for broad legislation to prevent human rights abuses in a range of detention settings, including de facto detention, in Ireland.

At the seminar, IPRT launched a Statement of Principles on Legislation to Ratify the OPCAT.

This event, and IPRT’s wider campaign on the ratification of OPCAT, was kindly supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland.

CFI new logo 2018


Bail (Amendment) Bill 2017: IPRT appearance at Justice and Equality Committee


Deirdre Malone, Executive Director, along with Fíona Ní Chinnéide and Michelle Martyn, addressed the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on detailed scrutiny of the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Wednesday 5 December.

Other speakers included the Bill sponsor, Mr Jim O’Callaghan TD; Dr Mary Rogan, associate professor in Law at Trinity College Dublin; and Vice Chairperson of AdVIC, Ms Joan Deane.

Deirdre Malone highlighted the need to look beyond legislation when considering how to tackle the issue of persons with prior convictions who commit offences while out on bail, and that it is important to look at the wider sociological issues that are often contributory factors to crime rates in Ireland.

For more information on IPRT’s position regarding Bail and Remand, access our Position Paper here.


Making the News

A., 28 November 2018: ‘No social or economic sense’

IPRT Deputy Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide speaks to on the low efficacy of short sentences. 

B. Media Coverage, 22 – 23 November 2018: Whistle-blower allegations regarding surveillance in prisons

IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone was involved in a range of media discussions surrounding the allegations by a whistle-blower within the Irish Prison Service regarding alleged covert surveillance of prisons and prisoner transport.

C. RTÉ Radio One, 11 November 2018: ‘This Week – Decision to withhold publication of a key review of operations at Oberstown’

IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone speaks to RTÉ’s Justin McCarthy about the importance of independent oversight, highlighting that full accountability requires public scrutiny.

D. Newstalk, 4 November 2018: ‘Mary and the Joy’

IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone contributes to Newstalk documentary, ‘Mary and the Joy’, in which Mary McLoughlin, a 93-year-old Roscommon native, recounts her time working in the Irish Prison Service between 1947 and 1956.

E. Irish Examiner, 11 October 2018: ‘Improvements at youth detention facility welcomed but ‘more effort needed’’

Noel Baker quotes Deirdre Malone in the Irish Examiner regarding the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority inspection report on Oberstown Children Detention Campus, undertaken in March 2018.


Penal Reform Developments

A. IPRT Submission to the Value for Money and Policy Review of Prisoner Escort Services 

On the 29th November 2018, the Minister for Justice and Equality has published the findings of the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review - Prisoner Escorts in the Criminal Justice System’, to which IPRT made a submission in March 2017. The findings make a commitment to establish a delivery oversight group to further assess the recommendations and put in place an implementation programme. Read the report here.

B. Joint Committee on Future of Mental Health Care: Final Report

On Wednesday 17th October 2018, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care published its final report, with a core recommendation to increase the number of acute psychiatric beds from 22 to 50 per 100,000 over three years. The report identified that a decrease in acute services in the community has coincided with a rise of mental health needs in prison, as well as highlighting the shortages in funding and recruitment to meet mental health care needs for both the prison system and the Central Mental Hospital. IPRT’s submission to the Committee can be accessed here.

C. HIQA inspection report of Oberstown Children Detention Campus

On Tuesday 9th October 2018, the Health Information and Quality Authority published its report on an unannounced inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus undertaken in March 2018. The report noted improvements in a number of areas, including the area of health, particularly medication management, and also regarding the relationships between staff and children and education. On publication of the HIQA report, IPRT called for a number of actions which can be viewed here.


Become a Member or a Friend of IPRT

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?

Friends of IPRT


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 2017St. Patrick's logo

IPRT is also grateful for core funding from the following:

3 Core Funders Nov-17

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



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