These are difficult times for all of us and we are all being affected in different ways. However, we understand that it can be particularly challenging for those of you who have a loved one in prison overseas.
We hope you know we are here to help and support you through this difficult time. Feel free to call us on +353 (0)1-505-3156, the London office on +44 207- 482-5528 or email our family support worker on firstname.lastname@example.org or your loved ones caseworker if they have a caseworker already.
Here are a few suggestions as to what you can do to help support your loved one in prison while continuing to look after yourselves during this tough time.
Where possible, maintain regular contact with your loved one. This is as important for you as it is for your loved one especially if there is increased lockdown in the prison. Being in regular contacts gives both of you reassurance that you are both doing ok. For instance; write to them regularly and if the prison allows it, send photos, books, puzzles and in cell exercises. We can send you or your loved one some of these if need be. Please note that there are post restrictions so some countries due to flight suspensions as a result of Covid-19. Check out the An Post website for updates on post restrictions ; https://www.anpost.com/Covid-19/Mails-Parcels-services. If your loved one is in a prison where there is a post restriction and you have good friends or other family members who live in that country you could email them a note for your loved one that they can post on your behalf. Otherwise contact the ICPO and we can try to help get a note to your loved one.
If you can, send your loved one funds so they can call you more often. If you have difficulty with this, please call us and we can help. Depending on what country your loved one is in, you could also consider renting a Skype number that is local to the country your loved one is in, which can reduce the cost of an international call. You can find out more information about how to set up a Skype number here; https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA256/how-do-i-get-a-skype-number.
If you are having difficulties with sending funds to your loved one, feel free to contact us or contact the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters directly; email@example.com and advise them who you wish to provide funds to. They will link you with a case officer who will then provide you with the account details so you can make an electronic lodgement and they will then contact the appropriate mission (Consulate/Embassy) and arrange the funds to be sent to your loved one.
You could also try to email your loved one. These facilities are usually low cost for you and your loved one. For instance; if you have a loved one in the UK or Australia, you can email them using the www.emailaprisoner.com (UK) or https://www.emailaprisoner.com.au/ (Australia). If you have a loved one in the U.S. you could try to email them using https://www.jpay.com/. Please note that not all prisons have jpay and in some prisons the prisoners have to buy a tablet to access jpay and in other prisons access to it may be limited for various reasons. Call us and we can discuss other options if these resources are not available in the prison where your loved one is in.
For anyone who has a loved one in a prison in Australia, a number of the prisons have introduced video calls. They are called AVL visits and you can book an AVL visit by calling the visit booking line for the prison. Feel free to call us if you have difficulty with setting this up.
If you have a serious concern in relation to your loved one, consider calling the prison and asking to speak to a welfare officer/social worker or safer custody. Alternatively, if your loved one is struggling encourage them to talk to the chaplain in the prison if they are still on duty. Some prisons in an effort to reduce exposure to the virus have reduced the staff numbers where appropriate. If you have difficulty contacting a staff member in the prison, you can also call us or contact the Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is also really important that you keep yourself safe and abide by the restrictions that the Government have introduced as your loved one in prison is also very worried about you and your health in this difficult time. They will feel better knowing you are safe.
We want to reassure you that we are here to help in any way we can. We are here to provide advice, support and information to you and your loved ones. Please don’t hesitate to call the Maynooth office on +353 (0)1-505-3156, the London office on +44 207- 482-5528 or email our family support worker on firstname.lastname@example.org or your loved ones caseworker if they have a caseworker already.
During this stressful and anxious time for Irish prisoners overseas and families, the ICPO Maynooth and London offices want to let you know that although our offices are currently closed, we are continuing to provide support, advice and information to Irish prisoners and their families and we are still contactable by phone, email and by post.
We will reply to everyone though it might take us a little longer. In addition, we are unable to visit Irish prisoners overseas at this time but will visit as many people as we can when it is safe to do so. We are postponing our Family Day due to take place in June to later in the year but continue to support families by phone and email.
We are continuing to provide the following services:
If you are a family member of an Irish prisoner, do not hesitate to contact us.
If you know any Irish person in prison overseas or the family member of an Irish prisoner, please pass on our details to them.
Tel: +353 1 505 3156
Tel: +44 207 482 5528
The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) is honoured to receive the Gerry Ryan Community Award 2019. This award is given to an organisation each year in recognition of their contribution to the Irish community in Britain.
The award was established by the Labour Party Irish Society following the passing of the long-standing Croydon Labour Councillor Gerry Ryan in 2015. Councillor Ryan was a founding member of the Labour Party Irish Society and the award is to recognise others, like Gerry, who have done so much for the Irish in Britain.
The ICPO has been working on behalf of Irish citizens in prison overseas and their families for 34 years and provides support and information to around 1200 Irish prisoners abroad every year. The ICPO was established by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 1985 in response to serious concerns regarding the number of Irish men and women in British prisons. Today the ICPO office in London works with almost 1000 Irish prisoners.
The ICPO was represented at the reception in Westminster by Breda Power – London Prisons Case Manager; Liz Power – Senior Caseworker; and Ellena Costello – Project Officer with the Traveller Equality Project. The award was presented by Derry Girls star Siobhan McSweeney. Following the presentation of the award, Breda Power spoke about the work of the ICPO in Britain and across the world. Ms Power addressed some of the current challenges facing the ICPO in their work in Britain, including:
“A growing prison population that has more than doubled in 20 years… A ‘let’s get tough on crime’ mind-set and a skewed view of prisons being ‘holiday camps’, all of which serves to feed into the idea that not only is it ok to imprison those most in need but also we should throw away the key.
Ms Power continued:
It has been said, ‘the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable’. ICPO works with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised Irish men and women in our society today. We are absolutely delighted to receive this award commemorating Gerry Ryan and his life’s work.”
The event was hosted by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, honorary president of the Labour Party Irish Society, and attended by approximately 80 people, including MPs, members of the House of Lords and members of the Labour Party Irish Society.
Irish man, who spent 5 years in prison in Kenya, speaks to the Irish Times about his experience. Read the article here.
He highlights the role ICPO can play in supporting not just prisoners but their families too, and the difference consular assistance made to his case.
ICPO Policy & Information Officer Ciara Kirrane outlined the challenges facing former prisoners returning to Ireland to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade on 29th November 2018.
Watch the presentation to the Committee here (ICPO presentation starts at 42:40)
See the ICPO’s statement to the Committee here.
Read an Irish Times article here highlighting the challenges facing returning emigrants as outlined by ICPO, Crosscare Migrant Project and Safe Home Ireland.
Cuts to legal aid for prisoners are unlawful because they are inherently unfair, the Court of Appeal ruled on Monday 10th April in its judgment on a legal challenge brought by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS).
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, TD, delivered the closing address at the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (I.C.P.O.) today (Tuesday).
In his remarks, Minister Flanagan paid tribute to the Council on their work: