The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter T.D., today published the Annual Report of the Parole Board for 2011.

In publishing the report, the Minister said "I would like to thank the Board's Chairman, Mr. John Costello, and members of the Board  for their report.  Theirs is an important role which is much valued and appreciated.  In particular, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Board in helping to encourage all prisoners eligible to participate in the parole process".  The Minister also paid tribute to Mr Patrick Crummey RIP who sadly passed away a short time ago and who made an important contribution during his tenure.

The Parole Board's principal function is to advise the Minister on the administration of long term prison sentences in respect of prisoners who are serving sentences greater than eight years.  The Board, by way of recommendation to the Minister, advises of the prisoner's progress to date, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services and how best to proceed with the future administration of the sentence.  All recommendations are considered in full when making the final decision on sentence management.

As explained in their report, the total caseload of the Board in 2011 was 205 - a combination of new cases and cases at second or subsequent review stage.  The Board reviewed the cases of 89 prisoners in 2011, with recommendations made to the Minister in respect of 88 cases reviewed.  One recommendation was deferred until 2012.  The majority of those recommendations (85) were accepted in full by the Minister.

The Board also comment on the number of prisoners who declined to participate in the process adding that it has to try to incentivise prisoners to participate in that process and with rehabilitation services generally.  During the next year, the chairman reports that the Board hopes to develop an information and education programme for prisoners on the benefits of engaging with the Board.

The Minister previously announced plans to enact legislation to place the Parole Board on a statutory footing. This will help strengthen the Parole Board and improve its functions. Speaking further Minister Shatter said "My Department is currently considering exactly what role a statutory Parole Board should play, what powers it should have, and the implications of same with a view to preparing the Heads of a Bill. I will make a further announcement in due course."

The Minister also announced the appointments of Mr. William Connolly, Mr. Eddie Rock, Ms. Nora McGarry and the re-appointment of Mr. Shane McCarthy to the Parole Board.

The Minister welcomed the contribution that the new members will make to the Board and commented on the wealth of experience and knowledge they will bring to their roles.  The Minister said "I believe that theirs is an important role which is much valued. I wish them well and look forward to them advancing the work of the Board during their tenure. "

The Minister added "I would also like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing members in helping to encourage all eligible prisoners to participate in the parole process and to thank them for their contribution in that respect."

The report is available on the Department's website 

23 July, 2012


Note for Editors

The Parole Board is an independent non-statutory body established by the Government to advise the Minister for Justice and Equality on the management of those serving long term prison sentences.  It was established on an administrative basis in April 2001 replacing the then Sentence Review Group.

The Board is currently chaired by Mr John Costello who was appointed on the 26 July, 2011.

Mr William Connolly
William Connolly joined the Irish Prison Service, as a Prison Officer, in 1974 and served for 38 years being promoted through the ranks to Governor 1 before being appointed as Director of Operations. He also served as Governor in charge of Mountjoy Prison, Wheatfield Prison, Cloverhill Prison and Portlaoise Prison.

Mr Eddie Rock
Eddie Rock served for over 30 years in An Garda Síochána; working in many areas of An Garda Síochána throughout that period. From 1993 to 1999, he served as a Superintendent at the Garda College and later at the Garda National Drug Squad. In 1999, Eddie was promoted to Chief Superintendent and, from 1999 - 2005, he served at a number of locations throughout Dublin, including at the "B Branch" (Garda Headquarters), Crumlin and Store Street. In February, 2005, he was appointed Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Garda Traffic Corps.

Mr Shane McCarthy
Shane McCarthy qualified as a solicitor in 1999 and established his own firm a year later in Skibbereen, Co. Cork. He was appointed to the Parole Board in 2009 and has also served on the Garda Síochána Complaints Board since April, 2002. He has sat on and chaired Tribunals under the aegis of the Complaints Board. Mr McCarthy also lectured in Cork Institute of Technology on a part time basis for three years on various accounting and business courses.

Ms. Nora McGarry
Nora McGarry qualified as a nurse at St. Raphael's School of Nursing, Co. Kildare in 1985. She served as a Staff Nurse with the Eastern Health Board, Child Psychiatric Services from 1985 - 2001. Ms McGarry also has a number of third level qualifications in Counselling and Pyschotherapy. She is currently employed in a part time capacity as a Student Counsellor at St. Colmcille's Community School, Knocklyon and operates a private practice, Imagine Counselling Services, providing psychotherapy and counselling. Nora was appointed to the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board in 2011.