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Question

105. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has cancelled all prisoner transfers to this State from outside prisons, as per the provisions of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act 2008; the reason for doing so; the number of applications that have been affected; the anticipated timeframe for the resolution of this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22596/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to advise the Deputy that prisoner transfers under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997 have not been cancelled.
Arising from an application to the High Court challenging their detention, and as a consequence of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Sweeney v the Governor of Loughan House Open Centre & Others, a number of prisoners were released from custody in 2014. The prisoners concerned had transferred here from the UK some years ago to serve the balance of their sentences imposed in that jurisdiction. These transfers were processed in accordance with the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997.
As under English law these prisoners would have been entitled to release on licence after serving two thirds of their sentences in prison, the effect of the judgement was that this two thirds portion of their sentence is the custodial sentence which must be enforced in this jurisdiction. The application of standard remission to the balance to be served here of those custodial sentences meant that the release dates for those prisoners had passed.
My Department has been considering the implications of the High Court judgment for future cases of prisoner management, including whether any changes to the current legislation may be necessary. The decision of the High Court in relation to the release of these prisoners has been appealed to the Supreme Court and is due to be heard shortly.