Human-rights lawyer Mark Kelly has been named as the new Inspector of Prisons, after a competition held by the Public Appointments Service.
The inspector is an independent, statutory officer appointed by the Minister for Justice under the Prisons Act 2007.
The minister, Helen McEntee, also announced the reappointment of Mark Toland, who had acted as interim Inspector of Prisons during the recruitment process, as chief inspector of the Garda Inspectorate.
Former ICCL director
Kelly, who takes up his position on 15 August, has wide international experience in the areas of monitoring prisons, police custody and administrative detention.
In 2014, he was elected to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe, of which he was vice-president from 2017-2021
Also in 2014, he was appointed as a commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).
Kelly was also a member of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe secretariat from 1991 to 2000, and was previously executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Kelly said that he was looking forward to building on the work of his predecessors to establish “truly independent inspection of places of detention”.
“Looking to the future, I especially welcome the plans to expand the role of the office to include independent monitoring of detention across the criminal-justice sector in Ireland, in line with the requirements of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture,” he added.
Minister McEntee described the role of the Inspector of Prisons as “an absolutely essential element of the oversight and evaluation structures within our penal system”.
She said that Kelly’s human-rights experience, in Ireland and abroad, would be of great benefit to the work of the office.
Under legislation, the inspector is obliged to carry out regular inspections of prisons. The minister can also ask the inspector to investigate any matter arising out of the management or operation of a prison, and submit a report on any such investigation.
Since April 2012 all deaths in custody are also subject to an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons.