547. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which evidence exists that criminal gangs and criminal gang leaders have better access to rehabilitative training than first-time offenders, or other prisoners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20847/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral. Rehabilitative programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use such services.
I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that no evidence exists that criminal gangs and criminal gang leaders have better access to rehabilitative training than first time offenders or other prisoners. However, the manner in which records are collated by the IPS regarding engagement with education and/or work and training services for prisoners does not allow for differentiation between first time offenders, gang affiliated prisoners and others.