Prisoners allowed one visit over Christmas period due to Covid-19

One child permitted to visit with adult for 15 minutes per prisoner over holiday season

Prisoners in Irish jails will be permitted one visit each over the Christmas and New Year period, which will be the first time in almost four months they have seen family or loved ones in person.

However, while special visiting arrangements would be put in place, each visit can include a maximum of one child. It means prisoners who have several children will only be able to take a visit from one of them, accompanied by an adult.

The Irish Prison Service has very tightly controlled every prison campus since the Covid-19 pandemic began and put in place a series of precautions, pre-dating the first confirmed case of the virus in the Republic on February 29th.

Hospital Report

Those measures included the early release of prisoners, in a bid to create additional capacity in jails to separate prisoners who were suspected of having Covid-19 and to quarantine and observe newly committed prisoners.


All in-person visits in jails across the State were also suspended from March. In-person visits were replaced with video-conference calls.

Prison visits were first suspended at the end of March and resumed at the end of July before being suspended again at the beginning of October.

The Irish Prison Service confirmed on Friday special arrangements were being made for the coming weeks, and between December 16th and January 6th all prisoners would be allowed one visit.

Each visit will last 15 minutes and could involve a maximum of two visitors – two adults or one adult and one child. Family members and prisoners will all be required to wear face masks while prisoners and their visitors will also be separated by clear screens in a bid to prevent any transmission of infection.

No physical contact between prisoners and visitors will be permitted and no packages or cash will be accepted in prison reception areas for prisoners, which is a departure from normal arrangements.

“All packages and cards are required to be received by the prison no later than December 19th for quarantining and security screening purposes,” the Irish Prison Service said in advice for the family and friends of prisoners.

“We would like to reassure families and friends that we are doing everything within our power to ensure family contact is maintained,” the prison service added.

It also stated prisoners would get one additional phone call per day between December 16th and January 6th.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times