Penal reform group urges ratification of torture protocol after watchdog appointment

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has called on the Government to expedite the ratification of an international torture treaty following the appointment of the new Inspector of Prisons.

Healthcare specialist Patricia Gilheaney was yesterday announced as the new Inspector of Prisons, with effect from 7 May 2018.

Deirdre Malone, executive director of the IPRT, welcomed Ms Gilheaney’s appointment to the “vitally important role”.

She added: “We hope and expect that the newly appointed Inspector will prioritise increasing the frequency of inspections and reports, and that she will be provided with sufficient resources, including staff resources, to meet the significant demands on her office.”

Ms Malone (pictured) also said she hoped the appointment would provide a “fresh impetus” to expedite Ireland’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

She said: “Ireland has a dark history of failing to protect those who reside behind locked doors. Out of sight and voiceless, those in closed spaces are our most vulnerable.

“Ratification would ensure that comprehensive inspection mechanisms are in place anywhere where people are deprived of their liberty in Ireland.”