Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
589. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the Parole Act 2019 will be commenced; and if an application for parole has been made by a person (details supplied). [16851/20]
The Parole Act 2019 provides for the establishment of an independent, statutory Parole Board, which will make decisions in relation to parole for all eligible prisoners.
The Deputy will be aware that under the 2019 Act, prisoners serving a life sentence will be eligible to be considered only after they have served 12 years of that sentence.
Prisoners who have applied under the old system but have not yet been granted parole will be eligible to be considered, once they meet the criteria set out in the Parole Act, by the new Board, in accordance with the provisions of that Act. It is, however, important to note that, in practice and over the past 10 years, the average sentence served by a life sentence prisoner before being released on parole has been approximately 19 years.
I am committed to seeing the new Parole Board up and running and soon as is practically possible and the Programme for Government commits to ensuring full implementation of the Parole Act 2019.
There are a number of practical steps required before it will be possible to commence the Act and establish the Parole Board, for example selection of Board members, the appointment of a Chief Executive and staff, putting in place the funding for the new Board, and various other matters, including premises for the new enlarged organisation etc. These measures will require the provision of additional funding in Budget 2021. A Project Board has been established in my Department to carry out the necessary work and ensure that all necessary arrangements are made. Pending establishment of the new Board, the existing expert Parole Board is continuing with its work.
Finally, and as the Deputy will appreciate, I cannot comment on the case of any particular prisoner including the specific case referred to.