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Oireachtas committee hearing on prisoners overseas

By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 March, 2014

Fr Gerry McFlynn of the ICPO.

Fr Gerry McFlynn of the ICPO.

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) made a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice on Tuesday on repatriation of Irish prisoners serving time in the UK. 

One of the issues the NGO highlighted was Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) prisoners who are not eligible for repatriation.

The IPP was abolished by the UK Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. 

According to the ICPO, there are two issues which need to be considered.

Firstly, there is no sentence conversion for those already serving an IPP sentence in the UK.

In addition, the Department of Justice and Equality in Ireland currently does not accept repatriation applications from IPP sentenced prisoners on the basis that there is no equivalent indeterminate sentence under our law.

During Tuesday’s Oireachtas presentation, the ICPO outlined its concerns in relation to these issues and highlighted the importance of repatriation.

Oireachtas members were asked to address any legal difficulty surrounding the repatriation of IPP sentenced prisoners as a matter of urgency.

In a statement, Joanna Joyce, coordinator of the ICPO in Ireland, said, “Repatriation would benefit families and society by permitting prisoners to serve their sentence close to their families.  Maintaining family ties assists reintegration and rehabilitation.”

Fr Gerry McFlynn, manager of the ICPO London office, said, “Repatriation is extremely important for Irish prisoners who wish to serve their sentence close to their families.”

He continued, “Maintaining family relationships during a period of imprisonment is vital for the wellbeing of offenders and their families.”

“Some Irish prisoners, knowing that they cannot apply for repatriation, are finding this situation extremely difficult to cope with and we are extremely concerned for the health and wellbeing of these prisoners.”

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas is a charitable organisation, which was established by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 1985. 

The ICPO works on behalf of Irish prisoners overseas to provide information and support to these prisoners and their families. 

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