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Question

1435. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Justice the decision making process that led to the appointment of a person (details supplied) as lead of the mental health task force on the way in which persons with mental health and addiction are treated within the criminal justice system; the number of other persons considered for the role; the qualifications of the person for the role; and the make-up of the rest of the task force. [19482/21]

1451. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice the process for the selection of the chairperson of the new mental health task force; the names of the other members; the breakdown in costs for the running of the task force; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19774/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1435 and 1451 together.
As the Deputy may be aware, the establishment of the Taskforce is further to the Government’s commitment to ensure the critical mental health needs for people in prison are met, addiction treatments are provided and primary care support is available on release, in order to ensure improved outcomes for individuals and for society .
The establishment of the Taskforce is a key goal within my Justice Plan for 2021.
Following consultation with the Department of Health, it was agreed the Taskforce would be independently chaired. While a number of suitable candidates were considered as part of the process to establish the Taskforce, I am pleased to state that Ms Kathleen Lynch, former Minister of State for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability agreed to undertake the role and I believe that Ms Lynch will bring a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience to this new role.
Officials in my Department will undertake the role of Secretariat.
The Taskforce membership will include representatives from a wide cross-section of health agencies and the Justice sector as well as from relevant stakeholders, including the HSE, Central Mental Hospital, the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The Taskforce will also consult with other relevant stakeholders, as required, such as the Mental Health Commission, Inspector of Prisons, Prison Visiting Committees, Irish Penal Reform Trust and academia. The breakdown of the costs of running the Taskforce are not currently available and any future funding considerations will also form part of their ongoing work.
The current plan is for the inaugural meeting to take place by the end of April and a high level implementation plan will be published by the Taskforce by the end of the year.