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Question

337. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice if a person from this State and serving a prison sentence in Northern Ireland can apply under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act 1995 to serve the prison sentence in this jurisdiction; the conditions under which such an application can be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27251/21]

338. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice if a person who is Irish and lives ordinarily in Northern Ireland and is serving a prison sentence in Northern Ireland can apply under the Transfer of Sentenced Person Act 1995 to serve the prison sentence in this jurisdiction on the basis of their Irish citizenship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27252/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 and 338 together.
I wish to advise the Deputy that the Council of the Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons provides a procedural framework for such transfers and seeks to provide a simple and relatively expeditious mechanism whereby the repatriation of sentenced persons may take place.
The Convention sets out six conditions which must be fulfilled if a transfer is to be affected and these conditions were transposed into national law in the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997. It is of course open to an Irish person serving a sentence in Northern Ireland to apply for a transfer under the Acts. However, it should be noted that even where all of the conditions are satisfied, there is no obligation on a State to comply with a transfer request.
As the Deputy may be aware, in 2014 a High Court judgement relating to the transfer of prisoners from the United Kingdom was appealed to the Supreme Court. The judgments in this case were received in July 2016. A subsequent Appeal Court ruling in another case in 2018 directed that the Minister must consider each application on its own merits under the existing legislation and give detailed reasoning for the decision reached.
The Government has approved the General Scheme of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Amendment Bill in 2019 in order to amend the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 and 1997. The relevant 2016 Supreme Court judgments raises the issue of how best to adapt and administer under Irish law a foreign sentence that contains features not found in Irish sentences. This (Amendment) Bill is designed to address this issue.
Officials in my Department are currently working with the Office of the Attorney General with a view to progressing this matter so that a finalised Bill can be brought to Government and presented to the Oireachtas as soon as possible.
Legislation to transpose Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA is also being progressed and is on the Government Legislative Programme Priority List for publication this session. Question No. 338 answered with Question No. 337.