New Inspector of Prisons Appointed
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has announced the appointment of Mark Kelly as the new Inspector of Prisons. This appointment is made following the completion of a Top Level Appointment Competition held by the Public Appointment Service, which was launched on 29 October 2021.
Announcing the appointment, the Minister said, “this role of the Inspector is an absolutely essential element of the oversight and evaluation structures within our penal system. The Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service constantly strive to develop and evolve in how we manage our prisons and the Inspector of Prisons plays a vital role in ensuring this work is carried out to the highest human rights standards and international good practice.”
“I am extremely pleased that Mark will be taking up this important role. I am sure his human rights experience both in Ireland and abroad will be of great benefit to the work of the Office. He joins an excellent team in the Office of the Inspector of Prisons which under his leadership and guidance will only go from strength to strength.”
The role is a statutory officer appointed by the Minister for Justice under the Prisons Act 2007. The Inspector of Prisons is independent in carrying out this work.
The key role of the Inspector of Prisons is to carry out regular inspections of all prisons in Ireland and to present a report on each institution inspected to the Minister for Justice. In addition, under Part 5 of the Prisons Act 2007, the Inspector of Prisons is required to carry out investigations into any matter relating to the operation and management of a prison as requested by the Minister for Justice. The Inspector of Prisons may also, of their own volition decide to investigate any matter they consider to be of concern. Further, since April 2012 all deaths in custody are subject to an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons.
Taking up the role Kelly said, “I’m really looking forward to joining the Inspectorate team and to building on the work of my predecessors to establish truly independent inspection of places of detention. Looking to the future, I especially welcome the plans to expand the role of the Office to include independent monitoring of detention across the criminal justice sector in Ireland, in line with the requirements of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).”