186. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice when the review of Covid-19 prison visits will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51572/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): As the Deputy will be aware, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons is a statutory body, independent in its work, set up under the Prisons Act 2007. The Inspector's key role is to carry out regular inspections of prisons. The Office is required to inspect the twelve prisons in Ireland to examine the treatment and conditions of prisoners and staff.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to monitor the situation within prisons for prisoners and staff, the Inspector has suspended her 2021 general inspection programme and has instead embarked on a COVID-19 focused inspection schedule, designed to provide a human rights-based assessment of the response of the Irish Prison Service to the pandemic.
As the Deputy may be aware, on 3 August this year, I published the first 4 COVID - 19 Thematic Inspection reports received from the Inspector of Prisons in relation to Mountjoy, Cloverhill, Wheatfield and Limerick Prisons.
I have also received Covid -19 Thematic Reports relating to Shelton Abbey, Portlaoise, Cork and Arbour Hill prisons. The intention is to bring all four reports to Government in the coming weeks and to publish them shortly thereafter.