Written Answers. - Prisons Agency.

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

34 Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice if she will give a time-frame for implementation of the recommendations in the expert group's report on the establishment of a prisons agency; if she will give a time frame for the establishment of a parole board as recommended by the group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9054/97]

Arrangements have been put in place in the Department of Justice to ensure that the necessary transition work for the establishment of the new prisons agency can be carried out while ensuring that ongoing essential administration work is also performed. As I announced on the publication of the report on 26 March last, this transition work will be intensive and will, if it is to be done properly, take some time. The work is at a very early stage and I cannot be definitive about the timescale involved. The best advice I have, however, is that, with the commitment which I know will be forthcoming from the Department, about 18 months would be required to put in place the appropriate systems, consult with staff associations, allow for management development etc.

In relation to the establishment of a parole board, the expert group recommended that such a board should be set up on a statutory basis. In parallel with the above work, the necessary legislation, including that to establish a parole board, will be prepared in the Department.