ICPO 25th Anniversary

02 Nov 2010

Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas 25th Anniversary Conference:

‘Bridging the Distance – Supporting Irish Prisoners Overseas and their families’

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO), a pastoral outreach established by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland in 1985, will host a conference celebrating its 25th anniversary on Tuesday next 9 November 2010 entitled “Bridging the Distance – Supporting Irish Prisoners Overseas and their Families”.  President Mary McAleese, Uachtarán na hÉireann and founding member of the ICPO, will address the conference which takes place in the Aisling Hotel, Parkgate St, Dublin.
Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry and chair of the Bishops’ Council of Emigrants, will open the conference which will be chaired by Ms Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Affairs editor of the Irish Independent.  The conference will explore and raise awareness about the practical, policy and pastoral issues which apply to this uniquely vulnerable category of Irish emigrant.   See full programme below.
Notes for Editors
  • Please note that (i) restrictions apply to print media reporting, and (ii) that a pooling of conference photographs will operate:
(i) An important contribution to this special anniversary conference will be made by a former client of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas.  The ICPO is grateful to our former client for agreeing to participate at the conference.  The former client’s decision to speak about his/her experiences in an overseas prison was made on the condition that the client’s anonymity be respected.  Print journalists in attendance and reporting on conference proceedings are asked to respect our former client’s wish for anonymity.
(ii) Photographers are asked not to attend this ICPO conference due to the participation, and attendance as guests, of former prisoners and their families.  ICPO asks photographers to respect this request as it represents the wishes of prisoners and their families.  For publication purposes, conference photographer John McElroy will circulate still photographs taken during the proceedings to all media outlets on 9 November next.  In advance, the ICPO wishes to thank the media for its cooperation concerning these sensitive matters.
  • It is estimated that, at any one time, there are up to 800 Irish people in prison overseas.  The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas works for Irish prisoners overseas wherever they are: we make no distinction in terms of religious faith; the nature of a prison conviction or of a prisoner’s status.  ICPO has contact with Irish people in prison in more than 20 countries around the world.
  • The ICPO offers a comprehensive service to prisoners and to prisoner families which includes: provision of information on repatriation and deportation, assists in making referrals to post release support agencies for those returning to Ireland, a hardship fund for prisoners where access to food, water and medical treatment are very real concerns.
  • Loneliness and isolation is common amongst Irish people imprisoned overseas.  The ICPO operates an extensive prison visiting programme in Britain and elsewhere and provides a newsletter twice yearly to its clients.  ICPO provides a pen friend scheme, language books and dictionaries where needed.
  • In recognition of the hardship endured by prisoner’s families, ICPO offers assistance with prison visits, information about the different issues affecting their loved one in prison and holds a Family Day each year.
  • Programme for the ICPO 25th Anniversary Conference, ‘Bridging the Distance – Supporting Irish Prisoners Overseas and their Families’, on 9 November 2010 in the Aisling Hotel, Parkgate St, Dublin:

    Chair: Ms Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Affairs Editor, Irish Independent

    10:00   Registration, Tea/Coffee

    10:45   Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, Chair, Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants

    Opening Address

    11:00   Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care and President of ACCORD

    The pastoral care of prisoners overseas and their families

    11:30   President Mary McAleese, Uachtarán na hÉireann

    12:15   Mr Jago Russell, CEO, Fair Trials International

    Securing a fair trial overseas

    12:45   Questions and Answers session

    13:00   Lunch

    14:15   Ms Marie Cross, Assistant Secretary, Passport and Consular Division, Department of Foreign Affairs

    The challenges involved in the provision of consular services to Irish prisoners overseas

    14:30   Ms Lisa Cuthbert, Director, PACE. PACE is a community based voluntary agency that works with people of an offending background who have experienced periods of imprisonment.

    The importance of post-release support for Irish citizens returning from prison overseas

    14:45   Ms Philomena Cullen, Director, Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB) and Mr Conn MacGabhann, Project Researcher, ICB

    Irish Travellers in Prison – Research Project

    15:00   A former ICPO client, under the condition of anonymity, has agreed to speak about his experiences in an overseas prison

    15:15   Questions and Answers session

    15:45   Closing Remarks

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 00 353 86 172 7678