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New Inspector Of Prisons & Reappointment Of An Garda Síochána Inspectorate.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee, yesterday announced the appointment of Mr 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: “The role of the Inspector of Prisons 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 Inspector of Prisons 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 Mr Mark 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)”.

Mr Mark Toland served in the role of interim Inspector of Prisons while the Top Level Appointment Competition was being completed. During this time, Mr Toland also continued to serve in his position as Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate and the Minister has also announced today his reappointment to that position, having received Government approval of the reappointment.

The Minister added: “I would like to thank Mark Toland, the interim Inspector of Prisons, for taking on this important role while the Top Level Appointment Competition was being completed. His appointment ensured the important work of the Inspector of Prisons, so essential in safeguarding the safety and security of prisoners, was able to continue uninterrupted. I would particularly like to thank him for his commitment and dedication to the work of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and making sure this work continued to be carried out to the highest standards during his tenure.

I am also pleased to confirm that I have received Government approval for the reappointment of Mr Toland as Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate. Mark has been working effectively in the position since 2017 and I have every confidence that his experience and hard work will continue to benefit both the Inspectorate and the wider policing system over the next crucial period as we bring forward the landmark Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill and the resultant combining of the existing functions of the Garda Inspectorate and the oversight function of the Policing Authority in the new Policing and Community Safety Authority”.

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