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Justice in Recession: Statement on the Current Economic Situation

It is no exaggeration to say that people in Ireland are in a state of shock at the suddenness and severity of the downturn in the country’s economic situation. In so far as we thought about ‘Ireland after the Celtic Tiger’, most people assumed it would be a time where growth would be slower, but more sustainable, where there would be ‘a soft landing’ for house prices, and where the gains of the boom years would be consolidated. We did not envisage an economic recession, a deep and widespread crisis in the financial system, a sharp rise in unemployment, and considerable anxiety about the future.



Working Notes – Issue 59 Editorial

‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’, L.P. Hartley famously wrote. Right now in Ireland, however, it is the present that feels like a foreign country. This is a place where we must adjust our assumptions and expectations and learn, or relearn, the skills to enable us deal with an economic situation that is the reverse of the favourable one to which we had become so acclimatised.


19.4.05. Dublin. Protest by Nigerian asylum seekers outside Leinster Hse & Dept of Justice asking for the right to stay & work and contribute to Irish society and some to stay with their families and Irish born children. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008: Well-Founded Fears?

Context The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 has come before the Dáil at a time when there has been a significant reduction in the number of new asylum claims being made in Ireland. In line with European trends, applications have dropped from a peak of 11,634 in 2002 to fewer than 4,000 in 2007.… Read more »


29.8.05. Dun Laoghaire. Participants in the Dun Laoghaire Refugee Project and P+L+U+S Appeal (Please Let Us Stay)- Leave to Remain for Aged-Out Minor Asylum Seekers- meet in Dun Laoghaire. Here Simret Teka speaking with Mekedelawit Solomon on her left and (on her immediate right-behind) Johnson Godwin. ©Photo Derek Speirs

Hidden Children: the Story of State Care for Separated Children

During the past ten years, over 5,300 children have come to the attention of the authorities in Ireland, having arrived here without the company of either of their parents. Many of these children, referred to as ‘separated children’ or ‘unaccompanied minors’, have experienced war and violence; some have been trafficked or smuggled into Ireland. They come from a wide range of countries, including Nigeria, Somalia, Ghana, Angola, Rwanda, China and parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.


Is Expansion of Prison Places for Women Needed? An Analysis of Statistics, 2003–2006

Current government prison policy envisages the closure of the Dóchas Centre in Mountjoy and the opening of new women’s prisons at Thornton Hall, in north Dublin and at Kilworth, Co. Cork, resulting in a doubling of the number of places for women prisoners. This radical expansion of prison capacity for female offenders is being justified by the authorities on the grounds that the existing facilities at Dóchas and in Limerick Prison are routinely overcrowded and that the prison building programme being undertaken at present needs to be ‘future proofed’ to cater for an on-going increase in the female prison population.


Jean Corston

Women in Prison: The Corston Report

In March 2006, I was commissioned by the then Home Secretary, Charles Clarke MP, to undertake ‘a review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system’ of England and Wales. My report was published in March 2007.1 In December 2007, the Government issued an official response to the findings of the review.


23.6.08. Dublin. Mountjoy Prison. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

What Does God Think of Irish Prisons?

The April 2008 issue of Working Notes entitled, ‘Thornton Hall Prison – A Progressive Move?’, has inspired the following article, which is written from the viewpoint of Catholic theology. I have never been jailed myself; however, courtesy of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform I had the privilege of visiting a number of Irish prisons some years ago. I also visit a friend who is currently serving a jail sentence.


Crime and Punishment: A Christian Perspective

At the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles, it was usual to distinguish between paramilitary prisoners and ODCs – ‘ordinary decent criminals’. The terminology is suggestive, even provocative: is it ever right to consider criminals as ‘ordinary’, much less ‘decent’? Certainly, it would be altogether wrong to trivialise the plight of victims, and especially victims of violent crime, by too lightly using a euphemism like ‘ordinary decent criminals’.



Building Sustainable Communities – The Role of Housing Policy

The Barriers to Community Building sustainable communities is extremely difficult in Ireland today. In many urban areas, at least, the sense of community has almost disappeared. There are several reasons why this is so: First, increased mobility means that many people expect to move from one community to another and so may have fewer bonds… Read more »



Working Notes – Issue 58 Editorial

‘Women should be imprisoned only if the offences they have committed are of such seriousness that the protection of the public, or the interests of justice, require that they receive a custodial sentence’; ‘where women need to be imprisoned, they should be detained in small, geographically-dispersed, multi-functional custodial units, not large prisons’; ‘both custodial and… Read more »