Dáil Éireann - Volume 628 - 22 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Irish Prison Service.

Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide a list of the medical treatments that will not be provided by the Prison Service under Section 37 of the Prisons Bill 2006, for which prisoners will be required to pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39314/06]

Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if prisoners will be required to pay for telephone calls to solicitors or other legal representatives under the terms of Section 37(a) of the Prisons Bill 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39354/06]

  Mr. McDowell: I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 and 196 together.

Section 37 of the Prisons Bill 2006 allows the Minister to provide for charges to be made to prisoners for goods or services that are not generally available to prisoners or are not available on an unlimited basis. This would include telephone calls, access to electronic devices, private medical treatment or escorts provided outside the prison for matters not related to their imprisonment. This section will provide a statutory basis for provisions in the Draft Prison Rules (a copy of which is available on my Department’s website at www.justice.ie) which allow a Prison Governor to charge for the provision of certain services over and above the standard provision to all prisoners, such as use of the videolink, telephone calls and access to materials relating to current affairs (e.g. newspapers, magazines etc.).

Access to many of these services are currently provided without charge and it is not intended to begin charging for all of these services. For example no charge is currently made for the making of a certain amount of phone calls. Prisoners are currently entitled to a daily phone call including calls to their legal advisor, and this will continue to be the position. Prisoners are provided [312] with access to Healthcare services on an equivalent basis to citizens in the general community who are covered by the GMS (Medical Card) service. Section 37 of the Prisons Bill 2006 allows for the Prison Rules to provide, where it is deemed necessary (on the basis of non-convicted status) to facilitate a prisoner with access to elective health care outside the public system, that the prisoner will be responsible for the costs associated with facilitating such provision. Provision of necessary healthcare to all prisoners on an equivalent basis to that provided under the public health system will continue to be funded by the State.

In addition to the escorts costs that would arise in the facilitation of access to elective healthcare outside the public system, prisoners are charged for escorts outside of their place of detention in relation to civil proceedings against third parties. It is not proposed to charge for escorts where the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or an individual governor is listed as a defendant or co-defendant in such proceedings. It is also not proposed to charge prisoners for appointments relating to any matters before the Residential Institutions Redress Board.