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Question

574. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Justice if the Irish Prison Service can at this stage of the Covid-19 situation, allow solicitors see their clients in person as opposed to video link, particularly in complex cases and in which interpreters might be needed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37833/21]

575. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Justice if the Irish Prison Service is producing prisoners for video link consultation with their solicitors on every occasion necessary; if not, the reason; her plans to address this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37834/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 574 and 575 together.
The Irish Prison Service has introduced a wide range of measures to address the risk presented by Covid-19 in a prison environment. 
These measures have at all times been guided by the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and are consistent with the prison specific guidance for the management of Covid-19 issued by the World Health Organisation and the guidance of the Council of Europe. 
The strategy employed by the Prison Service to control the risks arising during this pandemic has to date been very successful and it has in place contingency plans to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that all prisoners have access to phone or video calls with their legal representatives. 
In addition all prisoners are entitled to receive legal correspondence by post in accordance with Rule 44 of the Prison Rules, 2007.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID 19, management of the Prison Service has requested, through the Law Society, that physical visits are only carried out where absolutely necessary.
However, any solicitors that require to see their client in person in any prison are facilitated, with interpretation where required. Question No. 575 answered with Question No. 574.