The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr. Alan Shatter T.D. has today announced publication of the Annual Report of the Parole Board for 2010.

The Minister would like to thank the recently appointed chairman, Mr John Costello, and the Board for their report and work throughout the year. He would also like to pay tribute to the work of the former chairman, Mr Gordon Holmes, who sadly passed away early this year and who made such an enormous contribution during his tenure.

The Parole Board's principal function is to advise the Minister on the administration of long term prison sentences in respect of prisoners who are serving sentences greater than eight years. The Board, by way of recommendation to the Minister, advises of the prisoner's progress to date, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services and how best to proceed with the future administration of the sentence. All recommendations are considered in full when making the final decision on sentence management.

The Board report that they reviewed the cases of 81 prisoners in 2010, with recommendations made to the Minister in respect of 79 cases reviewed. The majority of those recommendations were accepted in full by the Minister. The Board also report that prisoners serving life sentences represent a significant proportion of the cases handled and comment on the importance attached to reviewing and advising the Minister in the management of such sentences.

The Minister intends to enact legislation to place the Parole Board on a statutory footing. This will help to strengthen the Parole Board and improve its functions. In that context, he will be considering what role the Board will play and what powers it should have.

The report is available on the Department's website

Note for Editors

The Parole Board is an independent non-statutory body established by the Government to advise the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence on the management of those serving long term prison sentences. It was established on an administrative basis in April, 2001 replacing the then Sentence Review Group.

The Board is currently chaired by Mr John Costello who was appointed on the 26 July, 2011. Mr Costello replaced the late Mr Gordon Holmes who passed away in January.

28 November, 2011