Dáil Questions: Foreign Affairs

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Dáil Issues, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights

Clare questioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs about the role of the Irish State in providing support to the family of an Irish man on trial is Scotland and  his views regarding the conditions in Maghaberry Prison.

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has been briefed on a case (details supplied), and the trial currently underway in Glasgow in Scotland; and whether Consular assistance has been offered to the family; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015.
Ref No: 28221/15
Details Supplied: Antoin Duffy, on trial for conspiracy to murder Johnny Adair

REPLY

This is a repeat of my reply to question no. 110 Ref No: 28402/15

Officials in my Department have been in recent contact with the mother of the person named and are working in conjunction with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) to provide her with appropriate assistance.

In our work with prisoners abroad, the Department must respect the wishes of each individual as to whether or not they wish to be provided with consular assistance.

As a first step, a visit to this person by the ICPO will be arranged in order to establish direct contact with them and to ascertain whether or not they wish to avail of the consular assistance my Department can provide. Our Consul General in Edinburgh will also directly correspond with the citizen

Question No. 131
Parliamentary Question – Oireachtas

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding any contact he has had with the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Mr David Forde, or with the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Theresa Villiers, regarding prison conditions in Maghaberry; the implementation of the stocktake, with particular reference to the need for the establishment of the Forum, with an independent chair, empowered to make recommendations, and with personnel from senior prison management authorised to make decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015.
Ref No: 28220/15

REPLY

This is a repeat of my answer to question no. 111.

Prison issues in Northern Ireland, in particular those which affect prisoners in separated accommodation, regularly feature in my discussions with Minister for Justice, David Ford MLA, and, on non-devolved matters, with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP.

In my contacts, I emphasise the importance of building trust between separated prisoners and prison management in Maghaberry Prison, significantly damaged by the 2012 murder of prison officer David Black.

The way forward will be through the implementation of the recommendations of the September 2014 Stocktake Report of the Independent Assessment Team, which reviewed progress in implementing the August 2010 Maghaberry Prison Agreement.

Both the NI Prison Service and prisoners are agreed on the importance of implementing the Stocktake Report. The appointment of a new, independent, chair of the Prison Forum should assist progress on implementation, which to date has not moved as quickly as I would wish.

Strip searching, controlled movement, and detention in the Care and Supervision Unit (CSU) of Maghaberry Prison continue as points of difference and tension between prisoners and prison management. Balances are required to be found between vindicating the rights of prisoners in very restrictive imprisonment with the duty on management to ensure an environment where the health and safety of staff and inmates are protected. There are differences in emphasis between management and prisoners in where that balance lies, complicated by the differing responsibilities of the Department of Justice and the Northern Ireland Office on these matters.

The effective address of strip searching, controlled movement, and the vindication of the rights of those in the CSU features in my regular discussions with Minister Ford and Secretary of State Villiers. In addition, my officials follow-up with the relevant Departments, with the NI Prison Service, and with the Prisoner Ombudsman on these and other matters. I am aware also that the new independent chair of the Prison Forum is seized of the importance of these issues.