Shatter releases report by visiting committee on St Patrick's Institute

Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 00:00

A report into conditions at St Patrick’s Institute for Young Offenders, Dublin, has concluded it was being run in an “efficient, fair, safe, and humanitarian” manner.

The findings of the visiting committee to the facility are in stark contrast to a report on the prison published by the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly last year which raised serious concerns about violence from a small number of staff aimed at prisoners.

Judge Reilly outlined a bullying, fearful, degrading and intimidatory culture “where the human rights of some prisoners, including children, are being ignored or violated”.

Unannounced visits

The findings of the ministerial appointed visiting committee 2011 annual report for the institution are based on 21 unannounced visits last year.

Judge Reilly’s report was based on visits he had made since being appointed five years ago, though his investigative visits to the prison intensified in late 2010 and in the first half of 2011.

The visiting committee report for 2010 also gave the facility a clear bill of health.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had last year published all of the reports of the visiting committees for every other prison in the State.

The Irish Times reported last weekend he was refusing to publish the report for St Patrick’s because he had asked the committee to review its findings in light of Judge Reilly’s conclusions. However, Mr Shatter yesterday published the report.

Advocacy officer at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Eoin Carroll said the reports revealed a “marked divergence” in opinion on how St Patrick’s was being run.

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said responsibility for conditions in the prison rests from the governor and senior staff up to management in the Irish Prison Service and Mr Shatter.

Serious concerns

“The publication of the visiting committee’s report is again a reminder to us of how long it seems to take for the political and administrative authorities responsible for prison policy to respond to serious concerns regarding what goes on in our prison system.”

The significant discrepancies in the findings between the committee’s and those of Judge Reilly may undermine the visiting committee process.

In his report in St Patrick’s publish three months ago, Judge Reilly said some children and young adult prisoners described as “vulnerable” were being especially targeted in the jail.