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Funerals may be broadcast to prisoners

PRISONERS refused temporary release to attend the funeral of family members or friends could soon be able to watch a live online stream of the service behind bars.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) will consider plans from a firm offering to provide Ireland's 4,000 prisoners with the facility, the Herald can reveal.

Alan Foudy, founder of Funerals Live, said he will approach the prison service with a comprehensive outline of his plans.

His scheme would allow inmates who have been refused temporary leave to attend a funeral the chance to watch it live in prison.

He said: "Obviously not all prisoners are allowed out to be there when someone close to them like a brother or sister dies. This is a great idea for the prison service because they wouldn't have to let criminals, some of whom may be dangerous, out on release."

An IPS spokesman said the submission "will be considered to see if it is something we are interested in engaging with".

"There's a constant need for prisoners to maintain relations with their families and we recognise that," he said.


"We recognise milestones like Christenings, weddings and funerals and we consider applications for temporary release from prisoners on a case-by-case basis.

"The Irish Prison Service also regularly takes on board prisoner requests to attend funerals."

Prisoners have no access to the internet, except in very limited training situations.

Any planned introduction of the scheme would have to be carefully considered as it throws up all sorts of potential "security and logistical problems", sources said.

This latest development follows a pilot programme in Limerick Prison last year allowing foreign prisoners to use Skype to communicate with family members abroad.

And while take-up of the scheme was low, a second pilot is to be rolled out in another prison this year to test interest elsewhere within the service.

Prison sources said it has not yet been decided in which prison this will take place.

The measure is part of a series of initiatives being considered by the prison service to improve prisoner and family relations.