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Ninety people detained in the Irish prison system for more than a year without being convicted of a crime

Darragh Mc

A total of 90 people have been in prison for more than a year without being convicted of any crime, new figures have revealed.

They are among 723 inmates currently held on remand pending trial in Irish prisons, 22 of whom have now been behind bars for over two years.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has expressed “great concern” at the statistics, and said remanding people in custody should only be used as a “measure of last resort”.

“These are people who may not be found guilty of any offence,” said IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady.

“Pre-trial detention has implications on presumption of innocence, the right to liberty, the right of access to a lawyer, as well as family rights.

“It is of particular concern where the remand period is so long, and this impacts on a person’s access to justice rights. If the person… is a primary care giver or the main earner in a family, then this has wider implications for the whole family,” she added.

The new figures were released by Justice Minister Heather Humphreys in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke.

They show that 68 people have been in prison for between one and two years without being convicted of an offence, while 127 have been held on remand for between six months and one year.

The information provided by Minister Humphreys did refer to the reasons for such long periods of remand, but the IPRT suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused delays in the criminal justice system.

“IPRT has campaigned against the increasing use of pre-trial detention for many years, and we are clear that remanding people in custody should only be used as a measure of last resort,” said Ms Brady.

Almost half of the inmates being held on remand are currently detained at Cloverhill in Clondalkin, which primarily caters for remand prisoners from the Leinster area. Of these, 34 have been there for more than a year.

A total of 11 prisoners who have been held on remand for more than two years are currently behind bars in Cloverhill, while three are being detained in both Mountjoy and Midlands Prison.

Two inmates in Portlaoise and Castlerea prisons have been on remand for more than two years, along with one person at Wheatfield Prison.

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