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Home > Prison Litigation Network Project. National report on Ireland.

Martynowicz, Agnieszka (2016) Prison Litigation Network Project. National report on Ireland. Dublin: Irish Penal Reform Trust.

PDF (Prison Litigation Network Project: Ireland)

This report was prepared as part of the Prison Litigation Network Project, which is a European project looking at national systems of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms for the protection of the rights of prisoners. IPRT is the Irish national project partner to the Prison Litigation Network Project.

The report find that while significant improvements have been made to physical conditions in Irish prisons in recent years, a number of concerns remain. Additionally, the complaints system available to prisoners, while improved since the introduction of a new policy in 2014, continues to face questions over its independence and effectiveness, and appears to be significantly underused by prisoners at present. The establishment of an Office of a Prisoner Ombudsman appears unlikely in the near future, and Ireland is still yet to ratify the Optional Protocol for the UN Convention against Torture and introduce the National Preventive Mechanism envisaged by the Protocol.

In these circumstances, prisoners often rely on raising any issues regarding their treatment or prison conditions through their legal representatives. This is far from easy, especially considering the limited level of legal aid in prison cases. Other barriers to litigation include:
• the “chill factor” relating to the potential of intimidation or victimisation;
• the perceived reluctance of the courts to interfere in the running of the prisons; and
• potential evidential issues.

Faced with such difficulties, many potential issues that could be considered by the courts are mediated before they reach that stage, improving the individual situation of the prisoner who raises them. In these circumstances, while there have been a number of very significant prison cases taken in Ireland over the years, the Report finds the impact of prison litigation in Ireland on systemic changes to the system is difficult to measure.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
April 2016
68 p.
Irish Penal Reform Trust
Place of Publication

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