Physical prison visits to resume on phased basis next month
Physical prison visits will resume on a phased basis next month, nearly four months after their suspension during the COVID-19 crisis, the Irish Prison Service has announced.
A new system of video visits was introduced in lieu of physical prison visits following their suspension on 27 March 2020.
Physical family visits to prisons will now recommence on a phased basis from 20 July 2020, subject to ongoing risk assessment and the latest public health advice.
Fíona Ní Chinnéide, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), welcomed the return of physical visits while calling for the video visits system to remain in place as a “supplement”.
She said: “The national roll-out of video visits has meant that there are children who, some for the first time, are now able to show their parents their bedrooms, ask for help with their homework, or see their parent’s face while they sit down to eat dinner.
“While plans to safely recommence physical visits must be a priority, it is crucial that video visits are retained even after physical visits are resumed fully.
“However, video visits should be an option used to supplement contact and support maintenance of positive relationships, and not as a replacement for physical visits.
“Provision of in-cell phones across the closed estate would further support family contact, and uphold the rights of children to have regular contact with their parent.”