asked the Minister for Justice the names and occupations of the members of the visiting committee to Limerick Prison for 1974; the date of their appointment; the date of their first meeting in 1974; and whether any of those persons have previously served on a prison visiting committee.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Limerick Prison Visiting Committee.
(1) The names and occupations of the members of the visiting committee to Limerick Prison are as follows:—
Mrs. M. Aherne, Housewife; Thomas Allen, Train Driver; Tom Butler, Businessman; Joseph Hogan, Industrial First Aid Officer; Mrs. E. Kelly, Housewife; Thomas Joyce, Factory Worker; Seán Moore, Hospital Porter/Attendant; Mrs. E. Mullins, Housewife; John O'Shaughnessy, Factory Worker; Michael Punch, Engineer; John Shannon, Businessman.
(2) The members were appointed on 30th April, 1974, with the exception of Mr. Joyce who was appointed on 27th May, 1974.
(3) The first meeting of the committee was held on 6th May, 1974.
(4) No member has served previously on a prison visiting committee.
Having regard to the terms of the question, I would like to place on record that in appointing visiting committees to other prisons and institutions such as St. Patrick's I reappointed a substantial proportion of those former members whose terms of office had expired and who, of course, had been originally appointed by one of my predecessors. There were special reasons why I considered that there ought to be an entirely new committee in Limerick.
Does the Minister regard it as satisfactory that there was no meeting of the visiting committee until the 6th May, which is more than four months after the beginning of the year, and would he take into account the fact that prisoners may have had complaints or other inquiries which they have a statutory right to bring before a visiting committee but which they were unable to do during that period of four and a quarter months?
I hesitate to say that any prisoner was prejudiced by the absence of the old visiting committee for the period mentioned by the Deputy because the reason why I felt it necessary to appoint a totally new committee was the fact that the previous committee in a report to me showed such a basic misconception of their position as holding the ring, so to speak, on behalf of the prisoner that I was compelled to appoint a new committee. It was something I wanted to give some considerable thought to in order to ensure that the same situation would not happen again in Limerick jail.
I think that is a very serious reflection on people, some of whom served for 20 or 30 years.
All I can say is that in a report to me this visiting committee complained—and I use the word "complained" advisedly because there was no doubt about what they were doing — that the standard of food in Limerick jail was too high.