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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Mountjoy Prison Aftercare Committee.


asked the Minister for Justice how many meetings of the Mountjoy Prison Aftercare Committee set up by the then Minister in 1965 have been held (a) in 1968 and (b) so far in 1969.


asked the Minister for Justice what recommendations have been made by the Mountjoy Prison Aftercare Committee; how effective they have been; and what further plans are to be implemented for the rehabilitation of prisoners.

I propose, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to take Questions Nos. 25 and 26 together.

The Mountjoy Aftercare Committee is one of a number of non-statutory bodies interested in the welfare of prisoners. The Guild of St. Philip of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Protestant Prisoners' Aid Society are other bodies attached to Mountjoy Prison which look after the welfare of prisoners and their families and they are given annual State grants totalling £1,275 for this purpose. There is also a statutory body, the visiting committee, which has wider functions in this field.

The Mountjoy Aftercare Committee was established by the Minister for Justice in 1965 primarily for the purpose of finding employment for discharged prisoners. The members held 11 meetings and found employment for six prisoners. They have not been active since February, 1967.

The committee made a number of recommendations in relation to prison administration, some of which were implemented, some of which were considered to be impracticable and some, again, which required detailed examination in consultation with other Government Departments.

The rehabilitation of prisoners has been a matter in which I and my predecessors have taken a particular interest. In recent years a number of schemes directed towards that end have been introduced; for instance, a temporary release system was made possible by the enactment of legislation in 1960; a corrective training unit and hostel for prisoners on daily release to employment was set up in Mountjoy; prison welfare officers were appointed; a psychiatric unit was established in Mountjoy as well as a school for prisoners with low standards of education. Within the last year my Department has embarked on a new experiment in the field of rehabilitation when setting up in Shanganagh, County Dublin, a semi-open institution for selected offenders under 21.

I am at present awaiting the report of an officer of my Department who was allocated last January to investigate and report on the present probation and prisoner after-care service with a view to its improvement.

I have a warm appreciation of the good work done by the voluntary members of these committees and I hope, in the near future, to bring about a resumption of the after-care committee's activities.

Might I ask the Minister whether those who investigated this matter have enquired into the question of the provision of better workshops in St. Patrick's Institute where young persons are being instructed in manual crafts, in view of the fact that the existing workshops fall far below the standard that would be approved by the inspectors of the Department of Industry and Commerce?

I will pass that on to the Minister.

I think there is the possibility of additional accommodation being made available where proper workshops could be erected.