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Minister Fitzgerald Publishes Report by the Inspector of Prisons on an Inspection of Loughan House

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald T.D., has today published the Report by the Inspector of Prisons on an Inspection of Loughan House.

The Office of the Inspector of Prisons is a statutory independent office established under the Prisons Act, 2007. The Inspector’s key role is to carry out regular inspections of prisons and to submit an Annual Report to the Minister. The Inspector may also investigate any matter arising out of the management or operation of a prison and submit a report on any such investigation.

The Minister welcomed the Report and said, “I would like to thank the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly for his report and am pleased to note his very positive comments in relation to the ethos and atmosphere of Loughan House. It is very clear that the centre is operated to a very high standard and that there are strong and collaborative working relationships with all of the services, who play an equally important role with the Irish Prison Service staff and the prisoners in developing the ethos of the centre. The Inspector’s report also highlights the very important role that open centres play within the Irish Prison system.”

Minister Fitzgerald also said "I am particularly pleased that the Inspector has found that Loughan House is not overcrowded, is well run and that all prison personnel working there are interested in improving the lives of the prisoners.

I would like to commend the management and staff of Loughan House for their commitment and professional approach and for the progress made over the past 2-3 years to implement the strategies and policies contained in the Irish Prison Service 3 year Strategic Plan such as the Community Return initiative of providing structured early release and the Incentivised Regimes Policy. In this regard I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that only prisoners who are on an enhanced regime are approved a transfer to an open centre.”

It is the intention of the Irish Prison Service to continue with its policy of selecting longer term prisoners who are deemed suitable for transfer to the two open centres.

Finally, the Inspector has called for the provision of an open centre for women with an emphasis on preparation for life after release from prison. In that context Minister Fitzgerald stated “In the ‘Joint Probation Service – Irish Prison Service Strategy 2014-2016, An Effective Response to Women Who Offend’, the Irish Prison Service committed to exploring the development of an open centre for women prisoners who assess as a low risk of re-offending. A subgroup has been established to examine where such a facility might be provided within the existing prison estate. This group are required to make their recommendations to the Irish Prison Service Senior Management Team during the third quarter of 2014.”

The report, along with previous reports, is available on the Department's website