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Parole Boards

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (515)

Éamon Ó Cuív


515. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice the number of prisoners released on parole by the Parole Board since the new independent Parole Board came into office; the number of prisoners who were not interviewed previously by the board who have had their first contact with the parole system since the new independent board was set up; when a permanent chief executive will be appointed to the Parole Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61612/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Parole Board, established under the Parole Act 2019, is an independent statutory body that considers the eligibility for parole of prisoners serving life sentences once the prisoners concerned have served at least 12 years of their sentence.

The statutory Parole Board is an entity entirely separate from its predecessor, the Interim Board and will make its decisions about parole independently from the Minister for Justice.

In order to assist the Deputy I have sought input from the Board on the status of the number of prisoners released on parole by the Board since it came into office. I have also sought information on the number of prisoners who were not interviewed previously by the Interim Parole Board that have had their first contact with the parole system since the new independent board was set up.

It is important to say that the parole process provided for by the Act of 2019 consists of a number of steps that must be complied with before a review of a given case can occur. In that regard, the Irish Prison Service is required to notify the Board of all prisoners eligible for consideration under the Act. Upon such notification, the Board is required to invite these prisoners to apply for parole.

To date the Board has been notified of 228 such prisoners and, following the issuing of invitations, has received 191 applications from this group of prisoners. These applications have been acknowledged and the applicants have been informed that the Board will commence gathering the necessary reports required in order to give consideration to their application.

Information on the process has also been provided to these applicants and is widely available throughout the prisons estate generally. I have been informed that from an inspection of the applications currently on hand, all applicants had previous involvement with the Interim Board. In one case however, although a participant in the previous process, the application was not ready for consideration by the Interim Board prior to its cessation of operations in July 2021.

The Act also provides that victims of relevant offences may also make submissions to the Board.

Under the Act both victims and parole applicants may have access to legal representation. To that end the Board recently advertised for suitably qualified solicitors and barristers to become members of a legal aid panel and a panel of 125 such legal professionals has now been set up to provide legal assistance where the relevant parties express a desire for this.

The Deputy will appreciate that a considerable amount of preparatory work must be undertaken by the Board relating to processes, applications and corporate governance before cases can actually be considered. However, I am advised that the Board will begin making decisions on applications in early 2022.

Finally, I can confirm that the recruitment process for the post of full time Chief Executive should be finalised shortly and the successful candidate announced in due course.

Question No. 516 answered with Question No. 514.
Question No. 517 answered with Question No. 514.
Question No. 518 answered with Question No. 508.
Question No. 519 answered with Question No. 508.