Press Release 25 October

A Disaster, and An Obscenity,
St Patrick’s Institution for Young Offenders has today been labeled “a disaster, and an obscenity, revealing the moral bankruptcy of the policies of the Minister for Justice.”


These hard-hitting comments by Fr Peter McVerry are contained in a study entitled Rehabilitation in Irish Prisons- Are We for Real? published today by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The study was launched in Dublin today by Judge Dermot Kinlen, the Inspector of Prisons.   


Commitment to Rehabilitation has regressed

“Rehabilitation in Irish prisons has regressed in the twenty-one years since the Whitaker Report on the penal system was published in 1985”, according to Fr McVerry, who contributed to the study.


Fr McVerry, who was a member of the of the Whitaker Committee, cited the closure of workshops and training facilities in 2003 and the cessation of literacy programmes at the youth prison as evidence of the decline in political commitment to rehabilitation throughout the prison system.


“Most young men in St. Patrick's spend 19 hours each day alone in their cells and the other five hours mindlessly walking up and down a dreary, depressing yard with nothing to do except to scheme (with enormous ingenuity, it must be said) how to get drugs into the place to kill the boredom” Fr McVerry added.


Call for greater scrutiny of replacement prison

Noting that the Government is committed to building a replacement youth prison, the Director of the Jesuit Centre, Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ called for “more scrutiny of the location, design and size of the replacement” for St Patrick’s Institution. “The problem has always been broader than the physical conditions in St Patrick's” he said


He added that “Rehabilitation must be a foundational concern in any prison-building programme. More important than any regeneration of prison buildings is a commitment to regeneration of the young people we send to prison.”


He pointed out that the Minister for Justice now has a great opportunity to exercise leadership. He called on the Minister to ring-fence the €25million annual savings arising from new working arrangements for Prison Officers and to use this money to develop alternatives to custody in targeted areas, targeted programmes in prisons and a strategy to ensure rehabilitation begun in prison continues after release. “In the absence of such investment, prison will remain little more than an interruption in an offender's criminal behaviour” he concluded.


In the absence of political commitment to rehabilitation he concluded by saying that Thornton Hall risks becoming ‘a social landfill-site’ for an increasingly uncaring Government. 



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November2004 Issue

The online version of the November 2004 issue of is now available. Contents include:

Editorial by Eugene Quinn

Morris Tribunal Report and the Garda Siochana Bill 2004 by Peter McVerry SJ

The Morris Tribunal's Report into corruption involving some Gardai in Donegal (1) has major implications for the Garda Síochána generally. The Report calls for radical reform of the structures within the Gardai, structures which have remained essentially unchanged since the foundation of the State and which are clearly in need of reform. This is an opportunity which must not be missed. Someone will be watching you!

Including Older People in Irish Societyby Paul Murray

Health Issues, poverty, and social inclusion...

Connecting Debt and Trade from a Development Perspective by Peter Henriot SJ.
It is now widely accepted that economic models that are not people-centred have led us to the current global crisis of deepening poverty, degradation of rights, destruction of the environment and increased danger of conflict and terrorism.

Getting to Grips with Ireland's Alcohol Problems by Margaret Burns

Recent months have seen the publication of two important reports on alcohol in Irish society - the Report on Alcohol Misuse by Young People, issued by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children in June 2004, and the Second Report of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, which was published in September. (1) These documents provide a wealth of information and analysis on the topic of alcohol in Ireland today and put forward a range of recommendations. They merit serious consideration by all concerned about health and social well-being in the newly-prosperous Ireland.

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Issue 47: December 2003

Budget 2004:Preserving a Divided Society
Budget Coverage


Budget 2004: Small Change for the Poor Robin Hanan

Economics and Justice Eithne Fitzgerald

Integrating Perspectives on Christmas Nadette Foley, Zhyan Sharif, Egide Dhala

So this is Christmas...? Cathy Molloy

Working Notes is sent to TD's, Government Departments, Educationalists, Community and Church Personnel, the Media and many other interested individuals, as well as published in full on this web site. We would be most interested to hear from readers with comments on articles, suggestions for topics, and articles for publication. Obviously we cannot guarantee publication of unsolicited articles.

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