Thursday 23 February 2017

Politicians still contact authorities on behalf of prisoners' relatives

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

TEN politicians made representations in relation to prisoners since the start of the year, reveal records obtained by the Irish Independent under freedom of information rules.

Most were made after the politician was approached by relatives of the prisoner.

They include Waterford Fianna Fail TD Brendan Kenneally, who helped request the temporary release of a man awaiting sentence for the sexual assault of his niece so he could attend his daughter's wedding.

Mr Kenneally defended his intervention, saying the man's family had pleaded for his help.

"All that was asked for was that the man be left out for a day on humanitarian grounds. I was not seeking to interfere with sentencing," said Mr Kenneally.

The prison service did not reveal if the request was granted.

Another Fianna Fail TD, Kildare North's Michael Fitzpatrick, helped relatives of a drug dealer serving a 10-year sentence to seek his temporary release so he could attend his son's communion.

Offence

The request was refused due to the seriousness of the offence and other factors.

Former minister Mary O'Rourke gave a character reference for one prisoner, saying he was "at heart a good guy" and asked if he could be transferred to an open prison.

However, she was told the inmate could not be moved as he was serving three years and his offence was too serious.

Green Party junior minister Mary White sought the transfer of a prisoner on behalf of his elderly parents, but the outcome of her request was not disclosed.

She asked for the transfer on "humanitarian grounds" to make it easier for the parents to visit their son in jail.

Leas-Cheann Comhairle Brendan Howlin also asked about the possibility of a prisoner being transferred.

The Wexford TD asked if a man jailed for drugs offences was being considered for a move from Wheatfield to an open prison.

However, he was told no transfer was being considered because of the seriousness of the offence.

Irish Independent

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