149. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if prisoners who wish to address their addictions have access to drug treatment services; and if so, the treatments available to them. [12666/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that any prisoner who enters the custody of the Irish Prison Services while presenting with addiction issues has access to specialist addiction services, and is actively encouraged to engage with those services.
The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that the treatments available are based on the principles of best practice, and are similar to those available in the community setting. This includes access to harm reduction methods, detoxification, stabilisation, and opiate replacement therapies. These interventions are based on a multi-professional approach to ensure that the prisoner's motivation, commitment and likelihood of success are always at the centre of planned care.
The Irish Prison Service has advised that the healthcare team which delivers these treatments include GP Specialist Addiction services, Consultant Addiction psychiatrist, specialist addiction nurses, addiction counsellors, addiction links workers, pharmacists, primary care GP's, and prison nurses.
The Irish Prison Service also works very closely with the Probation Service, community, voluntary, and statutory agencies to maintain a pathway of care ensuring supports remain in place for prisoners on their release from custody.
All prisoners have access to group and individual counselling services where they can address their own personal requirements, and specific support arrangements can be put in place and implemented during the prisoners period in custody. The person in custody can also benefit from peer support groups, music therapy, and a 9 week psycho-social based programme similar to community residential treatment services, which assists the person in remaining drug free.
The Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service are considering the recommendations of an independent evaluation of the addiction and drugs services in prisons, and are developing an Action Plan for those services based on the evaluation undertaken. The Action Plan will be informed by the recommendations of best practice from the National Drugs Rehabilitation Implementation Committee, and the National Drugs Strategy which is under review at present.