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Question

106. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the two prison deaths that occurred in the Midlands Prison over the past period; his views on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7411/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that inquests into the deaths of the two persons who died while in the custody of Midlands Prison in 2019 are pending, and the scheduling of those inquests is a matter for the Coroner concerned.
However, I wish to inform the Deputy that all deaths in custody are the subject of a Garda investigation in addition to the inquest held in the Coroner's Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the Coroner’s Court.
Moreover, all deaths in custody are also subject to an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. The investigation by the Inspector of Prisons applies to prisoners who are in the custody of the Irish Prison Service, and includes those instances where the death of the prisoner has occurred outside the prison, or the prisoner in question was recently on temporary release at the time of death.
The Irish Prison Service also has an internal review mechanism which assesses the circumstances of a death in custody, highlights accountability and outlines any actions to be taken in relation to the incident.
All prisoners on committal to prison, receive a comprehensive health assessment which includes a risk assessment for mental health issues. Management interventions to ensure the prisoners safety including recommendations on accommodation within the prison, observation levels to be conducted on the prisoner, increased healthcare inputs, and any other specific measures that may be appropriate are implemented to reduce the risk in individual cases. In such cases, further assessments are undertaken by the in-reach mental health services, and a multi-agency approach to deal with prisoners needs. Where appropriate, prisoners are kept under review by both the local healthcare team and the in-reach mental health specialists, and are reviewed at a weekly multi-agency meeting.