- Launch of ICPO commissioned research on the needs of Irish people returning from prison overseas
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 30th anniversary on Tuesday 1 December 2015 entitled “Reaching Out – Supporting Irish Prisoners Overseas and their Families”. President Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, will address the conference which takes place in Dublin Castle.
Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert and chair of the Bishops’ Council of Emigrants, will open the conference which will be chaired by Mr Mark Hennessy, News Editor of the Irish Times. The conference will explore the practical, policy and pastoral issues which apply to this uniquely vulnerable category of Irish emigrant. See full programme below.
Notes for Editors
- Media restrictions at the ICPO conference
In advance the ICPO wishes to thank the media for its cooperation concerning the following sensitive reporting matters:
- Pictures 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 former prisoners and their families. For publication purposes, conference photographer John McElroy will circulate still photographs taken during the proceedings to all media outlets on 1 December next. Alternatively, John McElroy can be contacted on +353 (0) 87 241 6985 and on [email protected]
- Print An important contribution to this special anniversary conference will be made by the mother of a client of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas. The ICPO is grateful to this person for agreeing to participate. Her decision to speak about her experiences was made on the condition that her anonymity be respected. Print journalists in attendance and reporting on conference proceedings are asked to respect this request for anonymity.
- New ICPO research
ICPO commissioned research to examine the resettlement needs of Irish people retuning from prison overseas. The results of this research will be launched at the conference in a report entitled A Step At A Time – The Resettlement Needs of Irish People Returning From Prison Overseas.
The report considered the resettlement needs of ex-prisoners returning to Ireland in 5 key areas: Accommodation; Education, Training and Employment; Health and Addiction Issues, Finance; and, Family. The research incorporated the views of ex-prisoners and resettlement service providers thus providing a dual perspective from which to assess their needs.
The report finds that Irish prisoners overseas, seeking or being compelled to resettle in Ireland face additional challenges vis á vis those being released from an Irish prison in terms of their resettlement. In view of this, the report has sought to clarify these particular challenges and identify future steps which may be taken to address them.
Once published at the conference the research will be available on www.icpo.ie.
- About the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas
It is estimated that, at any one time, there are up to 1,200 Irish people in prison overseas. The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas works for Irish prisoners overseas wherever they are: and makes 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 30 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.
- The full programme for the ICPO 30th Anniversary Conference, ‘Reaching Out – Supporting Irish Prisoners Overseas and their Families’, on 1 December 2015 in Dublin Castle follows:
Chair: Mark Hennessy, News Editor, Irish Times
09:45 Opening Address
Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert, Chair, Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants
10:00 The early days of ICPO
Nuala Kelly, First Coordinator of ICPO
10:30 President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins
10:55 BREAK (President Higgins will depart at 11.15)
11.20 Resettlement Needs of Returning Ex-Prisoners to Ireland
Paul Gavin, Researcher, ICPO commissioned report
11.55 Current Trends and Contemporary Challenges Facing Prisoners Overseas and the Organisations That Support Them
Pauline Crowe, OBE, Chief Executive, Prisoners Abroad
12:30 Questions & Answers
14:00 The Right Type of Education – A Briefing on Education and Training Provision for Gypsy and Irish Traveller Prisoners in England and Wales
Ellena Costello, Policy Officer, Traveller Equality Project, Irish Chaplaincy
14:20 The importance of a Pastoral Outreach to Prisoners Overseas
Father Gerry McFlynn, Manager, ICPO London office
14:40 Family Matters – The Impact of Overseas Imprisonment on Families
Claire O’Connell, ICPO Caseworker and Family Support Worker
A mother with a son imprisoned overseas will speak about her experiences
15:00 Questions & Answers
15:15 Looking to the future
Brian Hanley, Coordinator, ICPO Maynooth office
15.30 Closing Address
Mr Charles Flanagan TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
15.40 Concluding remarks by Conference Chair, Mark Hennessy.
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long, Director of Communications 00 353 86 172 7678