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. 



Posted in Criminality, Prisons and Justice News

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Housing the New Ireland

Issue 50 of Working Notes is available online now. Our theme this issue is 'Housing in the New Ireland.' This issue also includes editorial comment by Fr. Peter McVerry, S.J. on the findings of the NESC Report which is investigating corruption in the Garda Siochana in Donegal.

Housing the New Ireland: Comment on the NESC Report
Margaret Burns

Planning for People: Observations on NESC Chapter 5,
'Sustainable Neighbourhoods and Integrated Development'

Michael J. Bannon

Home: Dream or Possibility?
Challenges for the Homeless Services

Peter J. McVerry

Aspects of Catholic Social Teaching on Housing
Cathy Molloy

Editorial Comment - Second Report of the Morris Tribunal
Peter J. McVerry

Posted in Housing & Homelessness News

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Working Notes Issue 48

Issue 48: June 2004

Working Notes is sent to TD's, Governments, departments, educationalists, community and voluntary groups, church personnel, the media and interested individuals.

If you know anyone who would like to receive Working Notes on a regular basis just send in the their name and address to us or encourage them to apply via our website

We would be most interested to hear from readers with comments on articles, suggestions for topics and offers of articles for publication. Obviously

Posted in Housing & Homelessness News

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Citizenship Referendum ‘inappropriate and disproportionate’, says Jesuit Centre

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has serious reservations about the  appropriateness and proportionality of the Government’s holding a Citizenship Referendum as a response to concerns regarding Irish children of non-Irish nationals. It questions whether the fundamental change being proposed to the Constitution will create a significant barrier to developing an open, inclusive society that values the presence and contribution of immigrants and fully recognises their rights. In the light of these concerns, the Centre for Faith and Justice recommends a ‘No’ vote in the Referendum.

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Posted in International and Immigration News

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