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First woman to lead Prison Service
Caron McCaffrey

14 Dec 2018 / home affairs Print

First woman appointed to lead Prison Service

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan has announced the appointment of Caron McCaffrey as the new Director General of the Irish Prison Service (IPS), replacing the outgoing DG Michael Donnellan, who retired at the end of November.

“I warmly congratulate Caron McCaffrey (pictured) on her appointment to this important role within the overall justice and equality sector,” Minister Flanagan said.

“The Irish Prison Service is a vital component of the criminal justice system and fulfils a challenging remit on behalf of the community.”

The appointment was made by the Top-Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) following an open recruitment process. 

The minister said that McCaffrey had vast experience in the IPS, working in a variety of roles over the past 12 years.

Her leadership would be essential, he said, in continuing to embed further improvements in the safe, secure, humane and rehabilitative custody for people sent to prison in line with international human rights standards.

Minister Flanagan also thanked Mr Don Culliton who has served as acting director general in recent weeks.


Caron McCaffrey said: “I am honoured to be appointed to the role of Director General of the Irish Prison Service, adding that the IPS was a unique and important frontline service, comprising more than 3,200 committed men and women with diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences."

McCaffrey is the first woman to lead the IPS. Her role will include leading a management team responsible for all aspects of sentence administration, security, human resources, financial control and service development.

The DG is accountable for providing strong leadership to a team of more than 3,200 staff and a budget of approximately €340 million.

She has worked for 18 years in the justice sector, first serving in the Department of Justice and Equality in the Asylum Policy Division, the press office, and the Youth Justice Unit before taking up a role in the IPS in 2006 as press and programme manager.


She was promoted to Director of Corporate Services in 2008 and has since held responsibility for a range of portfolios, including human resources, and finance and estates.

She is a graduate of NUI Maynooth (BA) and Dublin City University (MA International Relations), holds an Advanced Diploma in Applied Employment Law from the King’s Inns, and recently graduated from the UCD Smurfit Business School with a Postgraduate Diploma in Corporate Governance.  

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