Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Labour Party TD for Dublin North Central, has called for greater efforts to be undertaken to increase the participation rates in education throughout Ireland’s prison system. Deputy Ó Ríordáin was one of several Deputies and Senators who undertook a visit to Mountjoy Prison and St. Patrick’s Institution this afternoon.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said: “I wanted to state that I really enjoyed the visit to Mountjoy and St. Patrick’s today with the Justice Committee, as it was a great opportunity to see first-hand the state of our prison services.
“However, this tour only reaffirmed my belief that our society should be doing much more to encourage the men and women currently in our prisons into the education system. To think that, on average, just 35% of the prison population take part in education is extremely worrying. Moreover, this figure drops as low as 14% for Mountjoy Prison here in Dublin City. These figures are simply unacceptable if we are serious about altering the climate and culture in our prison system.
“From speaking with some of the officials in Mountjoy and St. Patrick’s this afternoon, it is clear that we can and should be doing more to improve the prison education system. In addition, a particular emphasis on literacy would be invaluable to any education programme.
“We are all aware that a first class education can have enormous benefits in a society and there is no reason why we can’t extend these benefits to the prison population in order to ensure that inmates can rebuild their lives when they are released.
“I understand that the Inspector of Prisons recommended in his annual report last year that an independent audit be commissioned by the Irish Prison Service and I eagerly await the conclusion of this review. It is my hope that when this review is published that the Department of Justice and Department of Education undertake greater measures to drastically improve the levels of participation over the lifetime of this Government.”