Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Equality Martin Kenny TD has said today whilst many seem to think that the most important aspect of a new report by Patricia Gilheaney, the Inspector of Prisons, is that she encountered a drunken prison officer during a prison inspection, the report raises much more serious matters than that.
Teachta Kenny said:
“Patricia Gilheaney has identified a variety of grave problems in our prisons during her initial tour of inspection. These range from overcrowding, the activities of gang members in custody, smuggling of contraband into prisons and lack of treatment for mentally ill prisoners.
“The good of society is better served if those who serve prison sentences come out willing and ready to play a more positive and productive role in their communities and society as a whole.
“Those who are ill, physically or mentally, must be cared for and those under threat must be protected. Those who are ill from drug abuse must be treated and prevented from maintaining a supply from outside, as well as receiving rehabilitation within the prison system.
“What good comes from a bad prison system and how does it serve us all?
“I am calling on the Minister for Justice to take heed of the report of Patricia Gilheaney, the Inspector of Prisons and to work with her to improve the system. For a start, the shocking situation where the prison at Castlerea, which is one of the biggest in the State, has no psychiatrist, must be resolved.
“While the Inspector has a huge job of work ahead of her, she must be resourced and supported to do her duty and reform a system that is serving badly those inside and outside of prison.
“The Inspector says that increased Garda numbers have led to more arrests and convictions and this is a cause of overcrowding. If that is the case, it is also a result of a lack of joined-up thinking on the part of the Department and the Minister and will bring us back to the ‘revolving door’ scenario which existed in the recent past.”