Written answers

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Department of Justice and Equality

Prison Religious Services

Photo of Eric ByrneEric Byrne (Dublin South Central, Labour)
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493. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the process whereby the Government issue a policy statement to the effect that all chaplains, that is, those of faith groups as well as those of secular beliefs, be equally accommodated in all respects in Government Departments where chaplains operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17864/14]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Insofar as my responsibilities as Minister for Justice and Equality are concerned, chaplains work within the Prison Service only and my answer is confined to matters that relate to this role within the IPS. I would like to inform the Deputy that Prison Governors are obliged under the Prison Rules to facilitate prisoners in the practice of religious beliefs. Pastoral or chaplaincy services in all prisons are provided by the Roman Catholic Church, with the important proviso that the emotional and pastoral needs of prisoners of all faiths or none are catered for. Prisoners of faiths other than the Roman Catholic Church are ministered to by recognised representatives of their particular faith, including Church of Ireland, Judism, Islam, Buddism, etc.

The IPS is currently engaged in a tender competition to fill a number of vacancies left by Roman Catholic chaplains in various prisons. The Lay Pastors recruited may already have a vocational role in an established religion or be members of the Laity with the appropriate educational and experience qualifications. The minimum educational qualification is a Diploma in Pastoral Studies and a third level qualification in theological studies is desirable. Candidates must have prior experience of community work with marginalised groups.

While working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, Lay Pastors will be required to cater to the needs of all faiths or none and have the theological knowledge to facilitate the religious observations of various faiths, or source appropriate ministry for prisoners, irrespective of the religious beliefs of the Lay Pastor.

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