Thursday, 10 March 2022
Department of Justice and Equality
348. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time babies remain in the care of their mothers in prison; the number of babies currently residing with their mothers in prison by age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13621/22]
351. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of antenatal education care classes the prison service provides to pregnant women who may be in prison during their pregnancy; and if he will make a statement on the support and provision of services pregnant women in prison. [13624/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 348, 349, 350 and 351 together.
I can advise the Deputy that Rule 17 of the Prison Rules 2007 makes provision for a child to remain in the care of their mother in prison, until the child has reached twelve months of age.
I can further advise the Deputy that pregnant women in the custody of the Prison Service receive all of their antenatal care and education through the services of the local HSE Maternity hospital. Access to antenatal care is provided on a par with expectant mothers who live in the community.
Due to the specific needs of a number of the women who are pregnant, specialist HSE services have a very close and responsive working relationship with both prison management and the prison healthcare team. Most women receive all their antenatal care external to the prison in routine antenatal clinics in the local maternity hospital. When needed and in cases of emergency, specialist midwives will attend the prison; however, this is not normally required.
Expectant mothers are always facilitated to have their children born in hospital. The Prison Service has a mother and baby unit in the Dochas Centre. Expectant mothers are transferred from Limerick Prison to the Dochas Centre during their last trimester and remain there as long as their baby remains with them.
The Deputy will be aware that the construction of a new prison facility to provide accommodation for 50 female prisoners in Limerick Prison is advanced and is scheduled to become operational in the third quarter of 2022. This development will enhance the facilities within the Limerick Female Unit to care for pregnant prisoners and provide a number of areas where the care of mothers and babies can be facilitated in a safe manner.
The Deputy may wish to note, the number of babies born to women while in prison, when compared to the number who have been in prison while pregnant, is very low.
There are currently no babies residing in the Dochas Centre.
The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the tables below.
The number of pregnant women who have been cared for in Prison in the years 2019 – 2021 and to date in 2022.
|2022 (as of 7.03.22)||1||3|
*The Deputy may wish to note that the above counts are not of unique individual prisoners. In addition, there may be overlaps in particular between the figures for Dóchas and Limerick.
The number of babies born to pregnant women in Prison in the years 2019 to 2021 and to date in 2022.
|Year||Number of babies|
|2022 (as of 07.03.22)||0|