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Written Answers - Prison Deaths

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 83.  Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he will establish an office of prisoner ombudsman to investigate all deaths in the custody of the Irish Prison Service to ensure equivalency of human rights guarantees as part of the State’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. [6532/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter All deaths of prisoners are subject to independent investigation. Every case of a death in prison custody is the subject of a Garda investigation and an inquest held in a Coroner’s Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the court. There are procedures in place within the Irish Prison Service for the investigation of all deaths in custody. New procedures were drawn up by the Irish Prison Service to provide for the investigation of all deaths in prison to be conducted by independent people. In addition, a number of statutory measures are available for investigating deaths and are used as appropriate. In particular, the office of the Inspector of Prisons has been established on a statutory basis since 2007 by virtue of Part 5 of the Prisons Act 2007 and is independent. The inspector has an important role in ensuring there is effective independent oversight of our prison system and has my full support in carrying out his remit, which includes the investigation of deaths in appropriate cases. He and my Department are in discussions as to how best to address the issue.

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