20 October 2005

Govt plans overseas prisoners study


20/10/2005 - 14:20:05

The Government is to carry out the first major study of Irish prisoners overseas, it was confirmed today.

Junior foreign affairs minister Noel Treacy said former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Flood will lead the survey.

There are believed to be up to 1,200 prisoners in foreign jails, including 900 in the UK.

Mr Treacy said the study will establish the number of prisoners abroad, the countries where they are held, what offences they committed and the duration of sentences.

It will also identify the special health and social needs of particular inmates, including members of the Traveller community, in the UK.

Mr Treacy today told the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Human Rights that such a research project had been promised in the current programme for government.

The study will also review the services provided by the Irish Government and other social agencies and recommend how they can be improved.

“It represents a significant step in advancing the needs of prisoners abroad,” he said. “The needs of the families of overseas prisoners will also be considered.”

The Foreign Affairs Department had increased funding for the Irish diaspora by 63% this year compared with 2004.

Mr Flood previously has been the Government’s special envoy in tsunami-hit regions during this year.

Mr Treacy said the study will also focus on the conditions of prisons and how their human rights of Irish prisoners are being respected.

Welcoming the survey, Labour Party TD Michael D Higgins said: “I have always been outraged at the manner in which prisoners have been neglected.”

He added that Mr Flood must also investigate the social supports in the communities into which prisoners are released.

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