The Inspector of Prisons’ Report into St. Patrick’s Institution makes for harrowing reading. His use, throughout, of the word “child” is poignant and dramatic. He does not speak in technical or legal terms about “juveniles” or “young offenders”; he does not list complicated Articles of the Constitution or European Convention on Human Rights; he does not pontificate. He simply tells the story of St. Patrick’s Institution, of the children imprisoned there, of the adults imprisoned there, and the dismaying culture that has festered there. It is a sad, sad story, and one which we, as a nation, should be horrified to hear in Ireland in 2012.
The Inspector, Judge Michael Reilly, must be admired for his dogged pursuit of the truth in relation to the regime in St. Patrick’s Institution. He writes (at para 3.3) that if one were to compile a report on St Patrick’s based on one or two visits one might accept that it was run in accordance with best practice and that the rights of prisoners were vindicated. However, his approach was much more thorough. His Report is based on numerous visits to St Patrick’s, many of which were unannounced, on conversations with prisoners, prison officers, representatives of the Prison Officers Association, service providers to the prison and prison management, and on the views of many former inmates of St. Patrick’s, people who worked there over the years, people and organisations who provided services to St. Patrick’s and a cross section of people with an interest in and a knowledge of St. Patrick’s (para 3.4). This allowed for concerns to be cross-checked and verified, and means that the veracity of the findings in the Report is beyond question.
Most media outlets are covering the story today and it is not particularly Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: St. Patrick's Institution Report – Some Thoughts”