700. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice if there are vacancies on the prison visiting committee; where such vacancies are advertised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9525/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Appointments to Prison Visiting Committees are made in accordance the Prison (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 as applied by section 4 of the Prisons Act, 1970 and are generally made for a period not exceeding three years, but members may be considered for re-appointment.
The legislation provides that the membership of each Visiting Committee shall consist of not fewer than six, and not more than twelve, responsible persons. At present, the number of appointees to the Visiting Committees in Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre, Loughan House and Shelton Abbey is below the minimum.
Appointments are made by me, in my capacity as Minister, on foot of representations either from local representatives or from individuals nominating themselves. All applications for appointment are individually assessed and are subject to Garda clearance.
The Deputy may be aware that there is a commitment in the Programme for Government to review the existing functions, powers, appointment procedures and reporting processes for Prison Visiting Committees. Work in this regard has commenced, and is progressing in my Department.