Repatriation is an important issue for many ICPO clients who wish to serve their sentence close to their families. Maintaining family ties during a period of imprisonment is essential to ensure effective reintegration and rehabilitation. Transfer to an Irish prison also provides people with an opportunity to adequately prepare for their release, allowing them to access essential supports and services in Ireland.

Update – November 2018

All existing applications for repatriation have now been ‘reactivated’ according to the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan (Dáil Question, 17th October 2018). ICPO sought clarity on what ‘reactivated’ means in practice, as the legislative change required to progress certain applications is still outstanding. In short, it means different things for different prisoners – depending on the prisoner’s location and sentence type. Read our update to find out how it affects your relative/friend. Please be aware that if reports from An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service were already undertaken prior to the prisoner’s application being placed on hold in 2016 these reports may now be considered out of date and new reports from these authorities will be required.

How to apply for repatriation

Before applications were put on hold, the process was lengthy and it was taking up to two years to receive a decision on an application for repatriation. In general a person must be convicted and sentenced before they can apply for repatriation. To find out more about eligibility and the application process read our factsheet on repatriation.

Transfers to Ireland are governed by the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, which ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Over 60 states operate the convention, including some South and Central American countries. If a country is not a signatory to the Convention a transfer will require a bilateral agreement between the two states.

The Minister for Justice and Equality produces an annual report on the operation of the transfer legislation which shows the number of prisoners transferred in and out of Ireland:
Transfer of Sentenced Persons Annual Report 2017

The ICPO monitors repatriation applications with the Department of Justice and Equality on behalf of clients and is grateful to the Department of Justice for its assistance in this regard.