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Ireland's prisons are getting more chaplains

The aim is to have 18 chaplain roles across all Irish Prisons.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Public Expenditure and Reform has sanctioned the filling of 3.5 chaplaincy vacancies throughout the prison service, with one post each in Cork and Limerick and half time positions in the Mountjoy Campus, West Dublin Campus and Loughan House Open Centre.

Answering a parliamentary question, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said these new roles will increase resources of the chaplaincy service to 15 posts, covering 14 institutions.

Prison service

“The intention is to bring the total number of chaplains in the prison service up to 18.5, in order to ensure an effective and meaningful chaplaincy service. These new chaplains recruited from a Public Appointments Service competition will be direct employees of the Irish Prison Service,” she added.

Minister Fitzgerald said the Irish Prison Chaplain Service plays “a crucial role in the provision of pastoral and spiritual care to the entire prison community and seeks to meet the needs of all denominations”.

While chaplains are mostly Roman Catholic, some are from the Church of Ireland and Methodist denominations.

“Spiritual advisors of other churches/religions can also attend the prisons on a visiting basis, subject to normal visit rules,” said Fitzgerald. 

Spiritual guidance 

The minister added that the chaplaincy has a significant contribution to make as part of the multi-disciplinary team in a prison, addressing the physical, social and spiritual needs of prisoners in a holistic way.

Prisons are difficult environments in which to live and prisoners face many personal challenges in their daily lives and at particular times of crisis, for example, family bereavement, health problems or loss of a court appeal and also in settling into prison upon committal or getting ready for release. Prison chaplains can offer a comforting and supportive presence that is independent and professional, while working as part of the prison multi-disciplinary team reporting to the Governor.

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