Reforming the prison service
Sir, I refer to the article “Department must be brave enough to reform” (July 30th), written by Conor Lally. The article refers to developments in the Irish Prison Service in recent years. It is both incorrect and unfair to Brian Purcell to suggest that the many positive changes that have occurred in the service in recent years have commenced since my appointment as director general in December 2011.
As the article suggests, the Irish Prison Service has experienced considerable change in recent years. This reform and change agenda has been required in order to meet our commitments as set out in the two public service agreements, starting with Croke Park in 2010 and its successor, Haddington Road. This reform agenda has also been possible due to the end of the trend of increasing committals, meaning a reduction in the number in custody.
The significant developments which have occurred are not a result of the actions of one person but have been driven by all levels of management within the service and with the support and hard work of all our dedicated staff. It is a fact that many of the reforms mentioned in the article, such as community return, the refurbishment of Mountjoy and the incentivised regimes programme, had been initiated in some form prior to December 2011. While the advancement of these initiatives was part of our three-year strategy, published in 2012, all had commenced, to some extent, during Brian Purcell’s tenure as director general.
I believe that the work of a director general of the prison service is a continuum of the work completed by his or her predecessor.
The work completed since 2011 is built on the platform established by Brian Purcell during his tenure as director general, as was the work that Brian completed built on the platform created by Sean Aylward when he succeeded to the post. Yours, etc,
Irish Prison Service,