A convicted prisoner over 18 years is entitled to receive not less than one visit from relatives and friends in each week of not less than 30 minutes duration. A person under 18 is entitled to two such visits weekly. An unconvicted prisoner is entitled to one visit per day of not less than 15 minutes duration on each six days of the week.
The governor may permit a greater number of visits or visits in excess of the time above. There are greater visiting rights for persons imprisoned for default of payment of money or default of bail.
Restrictions may be placed on visits in accordance with the requirements of good order, safety and security. Restrictions may be placed on the number of nominated visitors. Prison visiting time shall be published. Visits are to be regulated. A prisoner shall not be required to visit with or to meet a person who has visited. Articles may not be exchanged during a visit except as permitted.
Visitors may be searched in order to confirm that they are not in possession of a prohibited article. This may consist of an examination of the person and clothing and may involve removal of outer clothing. It shall be conducted with due regard to the decency, privacy and dignity of the person being searched.
Governor may, facilitate video link meetings as an alternative to a visit with the consent of the person concerned. Visits other than by legal advisers, Gardai or Probation Service may take place within the hearing and view of a prison officer.
A prisoner shall be entitled to receive a visit from his legal adviser at any reasonable time, for the purpose of consulting in relation to a matter of a legal nature, in which the prisoner has a direct interest. The prisoner may at the discretion of the governor receive a visit at any reasonable time from a legal adviser or other person approved of by that legal adviser, who is assisting in making preparations for proceedings before the courts. Visits by legal advisers, Probation Officer shall take place out of the hearing of prison officers.
A foreign national shall be entitled to receive a visit from his consul at any reasonable time. An asylum applicant shall be entitled to receive a visit from designated international authorities and organisations and consuls of a state of his choosing.
Probation & Gardai
The Probation and Welfare Service are entitled to visit at reasonable times for the purpose of preparing reports and other matters, dealing with other matters relevant to prisoners.
Members of An Garda Síochána may visit prisoners for the purpose of performance of their functions. Unless otherwise requested, it shall take place out of the hearing of a prison officer.
Where it is proposed in relation to a prisoner under 18 years that a Garda Síochána visits, the governor shall make all reasonable endeavours to inform a parent or guardian or his spouse.
A prisoner is entitled to send and receive letters. An unconvicted prisoner is entitled to send letters and communications reasonably necessary for the purpose of the management of his property or business affairs.
Prisoners may send letters to the authorities including Minister for Justice, Chief Justice, President of the High Court, President of the Courts, European Court of Human Rights, Parole Board, Inspector of Prisons, Irish Human Rights Commission, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Incoming mail shall be given to the prisoner as soon as possible. It shall not be examined to any greater extent than is necessary to determine that it is such a letter. If a letter is to be examined, it is to be opened in the presence of the prisoner to whom it is addressed.
Outgoing letters may be examined, other than those to authorities. Letters which are
- which may cause offence or distress,
- interfere with the course of justice,
- in which the prisoner has not adequately identified himself,
- is to a person who has informed the governor he does not wish to receive letters,
- facilitates commission of a criminal offence or prevents detection or investigation of an offence,
- could give rise to a legal action against the governor,
- contrary to national security, good order and government of the prison or
- infringes the rights or freedoms of others including rights of privacy.
may be stopped.
Incoming letters may be opened and examined and confiscated if they contain articles which might facilitate criminal offences, hinder or prevent investigation of a criminal offence, interfere with the course of justice or endanger good order, safe and secure custody of the prison.
Communications with Family
Prisoners may communicate with members of his family or friends by telephone calls, in accordance with procedures, determined by the governor. A prisoner over 18 years shall be entitled to make not less than one telephone call per week, to a family member or friend. Subject to facilities, a person under 18 years may make not less than two per week.
Subject to facilities, an unconvicted person may make not less than five calls per week, and as many telephone calls as are reasonably necessary for managing his property and affairs.
There are enhanced rights to make telephone calls with legal advisers or relating to court appearances. In the case of visits and telephone calls, persons committed in default of payment of payment or in default of bail are entitled greater visitation rights and communication rights.
The governor may, for the purposes of maintaining good order and securing custody and ensuring that prohibited phone calls are not made, intercept telephone communications provided that the prisoner is informed before the communication that the call may be intercepted. The call may be terminated if it is threatening, could cause offence or distress, interfere with the administration of or course of justice, the recipient does not wish to be contacted, is contrary to national security, interests of good order or government, infringes the rights and freedoms of another, would facilitate commission of a human criminal offence or interfere with investigation or prosecution.
It is an offence for a prisoner to have unauthorised possession or use of mobile phones, including a component of such device by a prisoner. It is an offence to possess or use a mobile phone or supply such a device to a prisoner without permission of the governor.
The penalty for an offence on summary conviction is a fine not exceeding €5000 or for a term of imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both, or on indictment, a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment up to five years or both.
Death of Prisoner
If a prisoner dies, the governor is to inform the nominated next-of-kin as soon as may be. If a prisoner is seriously ill or injured, the governor is to inform his or her family and such other person as is nominated, unless the prisoner expresses a wish to the contrary.
If a governor becomes aware that a member of the prisoner’s family or a close friend has died, or is seriously ill, the prisoner is to be informed. The governor may permit the prisoner to make and receive a greater number of telephone calls and visits from the person concerned and family members on such occasions.
If a prisoner dies in prison, the governor is to immediately notify the coroner, Garda Síochána, Minister, Director General of the Irish Prison Service, prison doctor, a chaplain, Inspector of Prisons and Chair of the Visiting Committee of the prison.
The Governor shall, in so far as is practicable, provide facilities for prisoners to be kept informed of current affairs and developments outside the prison of a sporting, cultural or other nature. This may include provisions of newspapers and periodicals, radio and television. In the case of foreign nationals, access to such materials of his nationality shall be allowed.
The governor may permit access to individual prisoners, prisoners generally, or of a class of persons or groups where he considers it beneficial to the welfare of the prisoners concerned, subject to ministerial guidelines.
Privacy & Searches
Where a prisoner is being transported to and from prison, measures shall be taken insofar as practicable to ensure that he is not exposed to public view and is protected from insult, curiosity or publicity. The prison vehicle shall have adequate light and ventilation; preserve human dignity, comfort and safety.
Private information relating to a prisoner shall not be disclosed to any person except where necessary in the performance of official duty or in the interests of justice.
Unless otherwise authorised, male and female prisoners are to be accommodated in separate areas to which prisoners of the opposite gender do not have access.
The prisoners may be searched for anything in their possession at any time, if reasonably necessary for the maintenance of good order and secure custody. Prison officer may search a prisoner’s cell at any time as is necessary.
A prisoner shall not receive anything conveyed in or out of a prison without the consent of the governor. No person shall attempt to convey or transmit any article in or out of a prison without consent. Things may not be thrown in or out of prison or attempted to be brought into prison in such manner.
There is a provision in the 2007 Act for the use of video links for specified applications in criminal proceedings. Applications of the type specified may be made via video link, where the person concerned is convicted and imprisoned.
The application may be made in court without the presence of the prisoner if a court directs on being satisfied that it does not prejudice the prisoner and the interest of justice does not require his presence and the live television link between the prison and the court enables the prisoner to participate in view and hear the proceedings, those in court can see and hear the prisoner and the prisoner and his or her legal representatives can communicate in confidence during the hearing.
The absence of the prisoner must also be approved with having regard to the nature of the application and the complexity of the hearing, age, mental and physical capacity of the prisoner. No other circumstances must exist which would warrant the prisoner’s physical presence in court.
An application for a direction of the court may be made ex parte to a judge by or on behalf of the DPP or prisoner. The judge may require a notice to be given to the other party or his legal representatives if he considers it in the interest of justice to do so.
Where a court decides not to give a direction, it shall give reason. An application may be made by or on behalf of a prisoner to the court at any time after a direction has been given to revoke the direction on the ground that the relevant matters in respect of which the court is to be satisfied no longer apply.
For the purpose of an application to which the provisions relate, apply. Where the necessary provisions are complied with in relation to the hearing, a prisoner is deemed to be present in court for the purpose of any rule of law or order of court requiring his presence.
Nothing is to affect the rights of the prisoner to be present during any criminal proceedings other than the hearing of an application to which the provision applies. The relevant applications are: application for bail or free legal aid; certain specified applications in relation to proceedings on indictment; pre-trial applications in the District Court; and other applications in appeal and subsequent proceedings.
The provisions apply to applications to a court in criminal proceedings where the accused or a person convicted of an offence is in a remand centre or children’s detention centre within the meaning of the Children’s Act 2001. It also applies where the Minister for Health and Children, after consultation with the Minister for Justice by order, directs, a designated centre within the meaning of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.