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Call for Dóchas Centre reports to be published


The Irish Penal Reform Trust has called for two reports that were carried out into Mountjoy’s female prison in recent years to be published after another report carried out during Covid-19 found issues with how some prisoners were dealt with during the pandemic.

The 2020 report by the Inspector of Prisons into the Dóchas Centre was published late last night almost four years after it was carried out.

It found there were overcrowded conditions in the prison, restricted regimes were used on people with severe mental health issues and issues with the prisoner complaints system.

However, some sections of the 2020 report have been redacted and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) said it believes the issues raised in these sections resulted in two further reports into the prison being carried out.

It said the failure to publish the reports means serious questions remain unanswered and that they should be published in the interests of transparency.

However, it said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has indicated that the reports will not be published on foot of legal advice.

IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady said: “Given that issues identified in this initial report published last night were serious enough to warrant the minister to ask the Inspector of Prisons to conduct a further investigation into a ‘matter arising out of the management or operation of a prison’, until we see the publication of the subsequent reports, we cannot be sure that the issues identified have been properly resolved.

“We can only assume that the reacted sections of this Covid-19 report are what triggered the concern and subsequent inspections to take place.

“Years on we are still left in the dark as to what the cause of alarm was about, or if the issues have been addressed in any way.”

She also said the issues strengthen the case for the proposed Inspectorate of Places of Detention to publish their own reports in the future.

“The relevant legislation to do this should be published and passed without further delay,” she said.

The IPRT said the report found that the prison complaints process is not fit for purpose and that women were afraid of the negative consequences they may experience if they made complaints.

It also said the increase in the prison’s capacity without changing the building’s footprint is concerning.

The IPRT also described as “harrowing” reports that women with severe mental health difficulties were placed on restricted regimes for not complying with Covid-19 restrictions and subsequently were admitted to psychiatric care.

“Prison should not be the first port of call for people with severe mental health issues and diversion from prison with access to appropriate treatment and supports should be the default,” it added.


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