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Dóchas report ‘leaves questions unanswered’

29 Jan 2024 / justice Print

Dóchas report ‘leaves questions unanswered’

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has said that “serious questions remain unanswered” about conditions in Mountjoy Prison’s Dóchas Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the recent publication of a report by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons (OIP).

The report details findings from on-site monitoring that took place at the centre across three days in April and May 2020.

The report found that women in the prison had expressed a reluctance to make complaints “for fear of reprisal”.


It also found that there had been an increase of 54% in bed capacity at the centre since December 2019 without an increase in the footprint of the prison.

The report also noted some positive practices – including measures aimed at preventing COVID-19, and the maintenance of access to the courts.

While welcoming the report’s publication, the IPRT said that it had identified some “critical issues”, such as overcrowding, the use of restricted regimes on people with severe mental-health issues, and problems with the current prisoner-complaints system.


“While sections of the report remain redacted and pieces of the puzzle remain unsolved, the publication of the independent inspection report is important from a transparency perspective,” said Saoirse Brady (IPRT executive director).

She added, however, that issues identified in the report had been serious enough to warrant the Minister for Justice to ask the Inspector of Prisons to conduct a further investigation into a "matter arising out of the management or operation of a prison".

“Until we see the publication of the subsequent reports, we cannot be sure that the issues identified have been properly resolved,” said Brady.

“Regrettably, the minister has indicated that the two investigation reports that followed will remain unpublished on foot of legal advice but, without these – even in a redacted or summary form – serious questions remain unanswered,” she continued.

Brady also described the prison-complaints process as “not fit for purpose”, and called for an independent complaints process to be set up “as a matter of urgency”.

The IPRT says that the delay in publishing the report, and failure to publish subsequent reports, “strengthens the case” for the proposed Inspectorate of Places of Detention to publish its own reports in the future. It has called on the relevant legislation to be published and passed “without further delay”.

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