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Human rights training course launched for prison staff

The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, welcomed the training course at the Irish Prison Service College in Portlaoise.

Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter
Image: Julien Behal via Press Association Images

AROUND 3,500 PRISON staff around the country are to take a human rights training course.

The programme has been jointly developed by the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Irish Prison Service.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, launching the course today, outlined the importance of human rights in the prison service:

The protection of human rights is not solely a matter for Government or for policy makers. In the Irish Prison Service, human rights concerns are relevant from management to the staff at the front line.

He also addressed human rights concerns in the prison service that have been raised in the past.

He referred to the closing down of St Patrick’s Institution in July of this year. The institution, which housed men aged between 17 and 21, was closed after a report by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

In the report Judge Reilly commented “that a culture existed that led to the human rights of some children and young adults being ignored or violated”.

Minister Shatter told the crowd he addressed at the Irish Prison Service College, Portlaoise, that the service is taking on board its past mistakes as it moves forward:

The Irish Prison Service has shown that as a service it is willing to listen to the constructive criticism it has received from the Inspector, and others, and is prepared to effect changes in order to positively react to and address the issues raised.

The Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Michael Donnellan was also present at today’s launch. He stated the importance of treating people in the prison service with respect:

Respect for human rights is not just about the physical conditions of detention but also, and more importantly, it is the manner in which we treat our prisoners each day. It is about treating prisoners with humanity and with respect.

The Minister also reaffirmed the Irish Prison Service’s commitment to human rights and commented that this sentiment is ‘reflected’ in its mission statement, which is:

Providing safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities

The human right training course for prison staff was launched this week to coincide with International Human Rights Week.

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