Parole Board

I’ve done a number of pieces recently on the relatively little-known workings of a key agency within the Department of Justice.

The Parole Board reviews cases of prisoners who are serving long sentences. After doing eight years they are entitled to be considered for parole. They include people serving time for murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, sexual offences, drug trafficking and so on.

The board makes recommendations to the Minister for Justice, who, in the vast majority of cases, goes along with its recommendations.

But it’s the membership of the board and the appointment process to it that is worrying.

The Parole Board has 12 members, with a chairperson and representatives of the Department of Justice, the Prison Service and the Parole Board. Then there are seven representatives of the community, as they are known. All are appointed by the Justice Minister, typically on recommendation of senior dept officials.

I reported on Aug 7 that a retired representative of the Prison Service on the board had been re-appointed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter as a representative of the community…

I followed that on Aug 20 with criticism of the Minister by a group representing families of homicide victims for failing to make anyone from a victims’ organisation one of the seven community reps. Advocates for Victims of Homicide had even put forward two people for consideration. They weren’t even informed that they had not been chosen and found out second hand…


About Cormac O'Keeffe

I've written a novel. And, it's going to be published. This April. Mad, or what? It's entitled 'Black Water' and is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about that bumpy journey, which is about to get really exciting. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel, much of it centred along the canal. There are also some reviews, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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