Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton visits Castlerea Prison and announces the publication of the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2020



July 30 2021


The Minister of State for Civil and Criminal Justice, Hildegarde Naughton TD, has today published the 2020 Annual Report of the Irish Prison Service following her visit to Castlerea Prison. The Minister met with the Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Caron McCaffrey, and the management, staff and prisoners working and living in Castlerea Prison.


Minister Naughton commended the prison staff on how they have dealt with the significant challenges faced in controlling the risk of Covid-19 infections in Irish prisons.  She also observed the excellent work being done by the Irish Prison Service in Castlerea, including the development of the first prison equine centre in Europe.


Speaking at the prison yesterday, the Minister said,


“The efforts of the Irish Prison Service to control the spread of Covid-19 in prisons over the past 18 months have been phenomenal. Their previous experience of infection control combined with the efforts of prisoners and service providers has very much helped control outbreaks and prevent loss of life in Irish prisons.


“I would also like to acknowledge the support and sacrifices made by the prisoners’ families who adapted to the use of alternative means of connecting with their loved ones in prison in order to keep them safe. These efforts have paid off. Not one prisoner has died from Covid-19, or even required hospitalisation, since the outbreak of the pandemic.


Minister Naughton also congratulated the Prison Service on the acknowledgment they received from the 2020 Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Recognition Awards on the innovative measures introduced to ensure prisoners continued to have as much access as possible to rehabilitation and other services, and continuing contact with their families, adding that,


“I am pleased that the Prison Service will be continuing to use such innovations as virtual family visits, virtual service provision, tele-services, video link for court attendance, and electronic funds transfers to prisoner accounts, which will continue after this crisis passes. I believe they will be of great help to staff, prisoners and their families going forward”.


The Report notes that the overall daily average number in custody in 2020 was down by about 4% on 2019. This is partly attributed to the temporary release measures in March-May 2020, but also due to the impact of Covid-19 on court sessions, reducing the number of committals through the year by 29% compared to 2019.

The report also notes the increased activity of the Inspector of Prisons in 2020 as the Office deployed additional resources and published its framework for inspections. 

Minister Naughton also commented on the upcoming review of prison and penal policy and the work of the High Level Taskforce which is considering the mental health and addiction challenges of people interacting with the criminal justice system.


“Work is well advanced in the Department of Justice on a review of policy options for prison and penal reform to examine how we can reduce reoffending and make our communities safer. I look forward to publishing its initial findings in the autumn.

“The establishment of the High Level Taskforce on Mental Health was key 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, so we can better help individuals and for society.

“The Taskforce is also due to provide an interim report to both the Minister for Health and I by the end of September, and an implementation plan will be published by the end of the year.”


Finally, the report also notes the continuing work on the joint IPS/Probation Service strategy including leading the November 2020 launch of the Department of Justice Social Enterprise and Employment Strategy, Working to Change 2021-2023

Note for editors:


A copy of the Irish Prison Service’s Annual Report for 2020 is available at

Budget/ Spending/Staff

The IPS Budget for 2020 was €408 million, of which €15.66 million was additional funding from a Supplementary Estimate and the Government Covid Stimulus package. Covid related expenditure amounted to approximately €7 million. At year end IPS had 3,455 staff, with 138 new recruits and 100 retirements during the year

IPS Strategic Plan


Despite the priority of managing the challenges posed by Covid-19 the Irish Prison Service continue to deliver on the actions contained in its Strategic Plan. This Report also gives a detailed account of progress on the delivery of actions contained in the Strategic Plan.


Highlights include




Key statistics from Prison Service Annual Report













When Fine Defaulters are excluded from these figures: