Minister McEntee appoints interim Inspector of Prisons


23 February 2022



The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee T.D., today announced the appointment of Mr Mark Toland as the Inspector of Prisons, on a temporary interim basis.  


The vacancy arises following the resignation of Ms Patricia Gilheaney as Inspector with effect from 16 February 2022. The Minister said:



“The role of Inspector of Prisons is so important and Patricia Gilheaney has led the office since 2018 with commendable dedication and commitment to her role and left a lasting legacy in the Inspection Framework for the Office of the Inspector of Prisons.  Despite the constraints of the pandemic, she has greatly increased the impact and influence of the Office.


“It was always clear to me that Patricia kept the human rights of people in prison at the heart of the Office’s work. I have always valued Patricia’s views and will continue to do so.



This appointment allows the Inspector’s vital oversight work to continue uninterrupted pending a permanent appointment. The Top Level Appointment Competition by the Public Appointment Service, which was launched on 29th October 2021, to recruit a new Inspector of Prisons Service is expected to be completed shortly.


Mr Toland took up his position as Inspector of Prisons on 18th February 2022.


Mr Toland is currently the Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and will continue in his current role during this interim appointment as Inspector of Prisons.


Announcing the appointment, the Minister said –



I would like to thank Mark Toland for agreeing to take on this important role. Oversight and evaluation are vital to ensuring the safety and security of the often vulnerable people in the care of the State in prison and the office of the Inspector of Prisons plays a key role in ensuring this work is carried out to the highest standards.”



Note for Editors


Mark Toland was appointed Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in November, 2017. Prior to being appointed Chief Inspector, Mark served as a Commissioner at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission between 2016 and 2017and during that time he led a comprehensive whole of organisation review.


Mark previously served as a Deputy Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate from June 2012, a position he held for four and a half years. During that time, he was the lead inspector for several important inspections including the Crime Investigation, Changing Policing in Ireland and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse reports.


He joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1980 where he served for 30 years prior to relocating to Ireland with his family in 2010.


Planning for the recruitment process to appoint a new Inspector of Prisons commenced last summer after Ms Gilheaney indicated her intention to step down from her position.  This process is nearing completion.