Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (264, 265, 266, 267)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

264. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of pregnant women that have been cared for in prison in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39524/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

265. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of babies born to pregnant women in prison in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39525/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

266. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of ante-natal education care classes the prison service provides to pregnant women that may be in prison during their pregnancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39526/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

267. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time babies remain in the care of their mothers in prison; the number of babies by ages currently with their mothers in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39527/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 264 to 267, inclusive, together.

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that the level of maternity care provided to women in custody, is comparable to that available to women in the community. It is provided on a shared care arrangement between the maternity hospital to which the patient is referred, and the Healthcare Team in the Dochas or Limerick Prison.

The Health Service Executive is responsible for ante-natal education services and the number of these classes is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the hospital to which the patient is referred.

Expectant mothers are always facilitated to have their children born in hospital and no babies have been born within the confines of a prison.

The Irish Prison Service can confirm that there is a mother and baby unit in the Dochas Centre. Expectant mothers are transferred from Limerick Prison to the Dochas Centre during their last trimester and remain there as long as their baby remains with them.

The prison rules provide for a child to remain in the care of their mother in prison, until the child has reached twelve months of age. Presently there are no babies in custody.

The number of pregnant women that have been cared for in prison in each of the years 2016 to date is set out in the following table.

Prison

2016

2017

2018

2019

Dochas

Data prior to 2017 was not recorded in this format, it was retained on individual files

17

16

19

Limerick

7

4

5

4

The Irish Prison Service has not previously provided the above data owing to concerns that patient confidentiality could be compromised. However having reviewed this matter the Irish Prison Service is now satisfied that the disclosure of this data does not impinge on patient confidentiality.

The number of babies born to pregnant women in prison in each of the years 2016 to date is set out in the following table.

Prison

2016

2017

2018

2019

Dochas

3

3

4

0