292. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice the status of the establishment of a high level taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system; the way a person can become a part of this taskforce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38337/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will be aware, the establishment of the High Level Taskforce on Mental Health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system is a key goal within the Justice Plan 2021, which was published by Minister McEntee earlier this year.
The Taskforce is chaired by Kathleen Lynch, former Minister of State with responsibility for primary care, Mental Health and Disability.
The first meeting of the Taskforce took place via video conference on Wednesday 28 April 2021 and was attended by Minister of State at my Department, James Browne TD, and Ministers of State at the Department of Health, Mary Butler TD and Frank Feighan TD.
Two further meetings took place on 19 May and 25 June 2021. The next meeting of the Taskforce is due to take place on 29 July.
Three subgroups have now been established on diversion, on Irish Prison Service/Central Mental Hospital capacity and on community issues and through-care from custody. At the last meeting of the Taskforce, held on 25 June, updates were provided from subgroup chairs on their work to date and Terms of Reference.
The Deputy may wish to note that the Chairperson has also met the All Party Oireachtas Group on Penal Reform, co-chaired by (then) Senator Ivana Bacik and Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, supported by the Irish Penal Reform Trust, on 26 May 2021.
The Deputy may also wish to note that the Terms of Reference for the Taskforce include consultation with stakeholders where relevant. In that regard, I understand that the Taskforce currently envisages that consultation will take place in September in collaboration with officials from my Department. Further details of how the consultation will be undertaken will be published on my Department's website when available.
The Taskforce will provide an interim report to both the Minister for Health and I by the end of September and it is envisaged a high level implementation plan will be published by the Taskforce by the end of the year.