Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D. Welcomes the Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad By Mr. Chris Flood and Announces grant of €218,000 to the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., was today presented with an independent Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad prepared by Mr. Chris Flood. The Minister also announced the allocation of an additional €218,000 to the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO).
Welcoming the publication of the report, the Minister said:
“I wish to express my deep personal gratitude to Chris Flood for undertaking this important task.
“One of the most important functions of my Department is the provision of support and consular assistance to our citizens who find themselves in difficulties abroad.
“The ever increasing number of people travelling overseas means that our consular work now directly touches the lives of more and more Irish citizens. I am proud of the Government’s record in this area and will continue to insist that it remain a strategic priority for the Department.
“One important and demanding aspect of our consular service is the assistance we provide to Irish citizens incarcerated abroad, very often long distances from home and the network of family and friends.
“I am very conscious of the problems of isolation, communication and cultural difficulties which many Irish prisoners experience abroad. For their families back in Ireland, often elderly parents, the experience of having their loved ones detained in distant locations can be particularly distressing, and visits to the incarcerated family member can present considerable logistical challenges
“Of course, if Irish people commit crimes abroad, they must face the consequences of their actions before the local criminal justice system. However, we have a responsibility to ensure that our people are not discriminated against as foreign prisoners, and that any concerns they may have regarding their safety or treatment, are brought to the attention of the relevant authorities within the local prison system or the civilian authorities where necessary”.
The Minister said he would closely examine Mr Flood’s Report and recommendations to see how the Government might best improve upon the services we currently provide.
Announcing a grant of €218,000 to the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, the Minister paid tribute to the organisation,
“I am pleased to announce the allocation of €218,000 to ICPO in recognition of their continued frontline service to this isolated group of people. This brings to €900,000 the total funding provided by my Department to ICPO over the past five years. The ICPO is a valued partner in the provision of consular assistance to Irish citizens imprisoned abroad and compliments the work of our diplomatic missions”.
Note for Editors:
Mr Flood was asked by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to prepare his Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad in the context of a commitment contained in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (2000).
The PPF identified an objective “to address the special needs of those Irish emigrants abroad who are particularly marginalised or at greater risk of exclusion”. The meet this objective, the PPF called for the establishment of a Task Force on Emigrants, to develop a coherent, long term approach to Irish emigrants and for a research project to be undertaken “to identify the number of Irish prisoners abroad and their needs for services in prison”.
The Task Force on Emigrants submitted its report in 2002 and the Irish Abroad Unit was subsequently established in the Department of Foreign Affairs.