Bishop Seamus Hegarty has called for the Government to implement the recommendations contained in the Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad, which was launched in August 2007. The request was contained in the bishop’s St Patrick’s Day message; Bishop Hegarty is Bishop of Derry and Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants.
He says the publication of the Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad had been welcomed by the Commission for Emigrants. He adds:
This Report, the first of its kind commissioned by the Government and prepared by Chris Flood, is a timely reminder of the problems faced by Irish prisoners abroad and their families. The Report, as well as containing important statistical information, provides a disturbing snapshot of the conditions, problems and issues faced by prisoners and their families. It also contains a number of practical recommendations which, if implemented, would go a long way towards addressing these concerns.
The Bishops’ Council for Emigrants now calls on the Government to renew its commitment to prisoners abroad and their families by implementing, in full, these recommendations and doing all it can to alleviate the anxiety and hardship experienced by this most vulnerable group of emigrants and their families. This work was undertaken as a result of a promise in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness to undertake research to identify the number of Irish prisoners abroad and their needs for services in prison (Ireland, 2000).
Bishop Hegarty also says that Ireland should serve as an international model on migration issues:
As more and more people migrate, the work of organizations – such as the Bishops’ Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas – will serve as a template to nations as they face the multi-faceted challenges posed by migration. It is only right that Ireland establishes itself as an international leader with regard to services and supports for citizens abroad.