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Question

20. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the progress of the transfer of sentenced persons for cases outside of the UK that were reactivated earlier in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42442/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 and 1997 give effect to the Convention of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons 1983. The Convention recognises that international co-operation in criminal law should further the ends of justice and social rehabilitation of prisoners and that this may be best achieved by having them transferred to serve their sentences in their own countries. The Minister of the day has discretion under the Transfer of Persons Acts to decide whether to consent to any such transfer.
A number of factors, including the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of O'Farrell, McDonald, Rafferty -v-The Governor of Portlaoise Prison, have implications for the continuance in its present form of the process operated by the Irish Prison Service for transferring prisoners from other States to Ireland.
That judgment found against the State and raised a number of complex issues about the legislation itself and its administration.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal decision in the case M.McK v The Minister for Justice and Equality [2016] IEHC 208, has clarified that the Minister should ultimately consider each application on its own merits and give detailed reasoning for the decision reached.
The judgment also concludes that the Minister cannot fail to implement legislation through prolonged inactivity of a statutory scheme such as the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts. As the Deputy is aware, following the judgment, all existing applications have been reactivated and will be re-considered on their own merits.
I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that here are currently 7 cases being processed from applicants from outside the UK jurisdiction. Each case is at a different stage of the application process and all cases require the collation of a number of reports, e.g. Garda Reports and Probation Service Reports, some of which are still outstanding in a number of these cases.
The issues raised in the judgments also required substantive consideration by my officials, which indicates that legislative change is required, and my Department is currently finalising a draft scheme of a Bill for consideration by Government. Following this, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel will be asked to draft a Bill to deal with these issues as soon as possible.