The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr Alan Shatter T.D. announced that, following consultations with Judge Reilly, Inspector of Prisons, it had been decided that the death of any prisoner in the custody of the Irish Prison Service shall be the subject of an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. This is in addition and without prejudice to existing mechanisms in place for the investigation of deaths including Garda investigations and inquests by Coroners.

All deaths of prisoners, including those arising from natural causes or suicide,  will be the subject of an independent investigation by the Inspector.  This will apply to prisoners who are in the custody of the Irish Prison Service, whether or not the death actually occurs within the prison walls, and to prisoners who have recently been let out on temporary release. In the context of his investigations, the Inspector will consult, as appropriate, with members of the family of the deceased.  Under Part 5 of the Prisons Act 2007, the Inspector of Prisons is independent in the performance of his functions and there is an obligation to publish his reports.

The Minister said that "I welcome this important development.  Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.  There can be no questions left unanswered when a person in State custody dies.  The independence and track record of the Inspector speaks for itself and I am confident that the Irish Prison Service and other relevant public sector agencies will cooperate with and indeed welcome the Inspector's involvement in this area."

19 April 2012