Archives: Articles

IssueM Articles

Hospital or Prison? What Future for the Central Mental Hospital?

Introduction The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum probably evokes a cold shiver in people as they pass by – that is, if they think about it at all. The perception of the hospital is influenced visually by the high walls, the imposing metal gates leading up a long avenue to another electronic gate, and the… Read more »


Is there a Need for the Women’s Prison to Move from Mountjoy to Thornton Hall?

Introduction The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Irish Prison System (the Whitaker Report), published in 1985, identified women in prison as a particularly vulnerable group. It recommended that, in so far as possible, women offenders should be given non-custodial penalties and that of those imprisoned the majority should be accommodated in an… Read more »


Ireland’s Women’s Prisons

Among Ireland’s fourteen prisons, there are two for female prisoners: one is the Dóchas Centre, the new female prison at Mountjoy; the other is located in the oldest prison in the country still in operation, Limerick Prison, a male prison where imprisoned women are accommodated on one corridor. Both are closed prisons. Prisons of varying levels of security, including open prisons, as are available for male prisoners in Ireland, are not provided for the female prison population.


4.11.06 Dublin Dochas womens Prison. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

The Ripple Effects of Imprisonment on Prisoners’ Families

To many in our society, the impact of imprisonment on prisoners and their families is a matter of little or no importance. In the face of everyday issues such as meeting financial demands, finding a balance between work and family commitments, and obtaining access to services in an inadequate health care system, the needs of prisoners and their families is not an issue of concern for many members of the public.


Gardaí and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Reports

Introduction Towards the end of 2007, a young man, aged nineteen, from a deprived neighbourhood came to tell me that on the previous day he had been taken to a Garda Station for a drugs search, during the course of which he had beeng assaulted by several Gardaí. When no drugs were found on him,… Read more »



Working Notes – Issue 57 Editorial

In February 2008, the report on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed Thornton Hall prison complex was published. The scope of the Assessment did not extend to analysing in depth the impact of Thornton Hall on the prisoners who will be detained there. Yet the study’s Non Technical Summary confidently declared that: The… Read more »


Pedro Arrupe: Inspirational Jesuit Leader

Introduction Does it seem strange that the role model for a centre for business ethics and for a hostel for the homeless is the same person? The centenary of the birth of Pedro Arrupe has brought new interest in his life and work, which are being celebrated and commemorated this November, especially in his native… Read more »


What is Development? Promoting the Good of Every Person and of the Whole Person

The year 2007 marked the fortieth anniversary of the publication Populorum Progressio (The Development of Peoples), Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, and the twentieth anniversary of Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Social Concern of the Church), the encyclical issued by Pope John Paul II.1 In my view, commemoration of documents written many years ago is worthwhile only… Read more »


28.8.07. Leitrim. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Homes not Hostels: Rethinking Homeless Policy

Most homeless people simply want a place they can call home. Some need varying levels of support to enable them to keep a home. But a key to their own front door is the symbol of the desires of homeless people.


How Much Equality is Needed for Justice?

Critics of Ireland’s decade-long economic boom often, with an eye to justice, express considerable concern about ‘rising inequality and about the core features of the strategy adopted by the Government to combat poverty’.1 This is so despite the fact that since 1994 the percentage of the population living in ‘consistent poverty’ appears to have fallen from 16 per cent to 7 per cent.2 However, since the late 1990s, ‘relative income poverty’ has persistently remained around 20 per cent, higher than it was in 1994.3 Would it be more just to return to a poorer but more equal Ireland, or is this the wrong kind of question to ask? Can we say instead that this is not a choice Ireland needs to make?