On Thursday 11 March 2024, the Action for Children and Families of Prisoners Network joined together online for their second meeting of 2024.

The meeting welcomed a presentation from the Office of the Inspector of Prisons (OIP), launched a new network communications channel, heard updates on the work of Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) on children and families of people in prison, and learned what is happening on the ground from network members.


Michelle Martyn, an Inspector with the Office of the Inspector of Prisons (OIP), provided the Network members with an overview of the work of the office of the inspection of prisons, the thematic inspection, and the monitoring process.

Michelle spoke about the Inspection Framework for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland. This Framework sets out how they conduct inspections of prisons in Ireland. It is informed by the statutory underpinning of the Inspector in legislation, national legislation relating to prisons and prisoners’ rights, and international obligations owing to prisoners. It also draws upon relevant international human rights standards, in particular the preventive approach and standards set by the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). 

During the presentation Michelle spoke about the five main thematic areas that are part of their inspector work: 

  • Respect and Dignity 
  • Safety and Security 
  • Health and Well-being 
  • Rehabilitation and Development 
  • Resettlement 

Michelle discussed how family contact played a crucial role in various thematic areas such as health, well-being, resettlement, and security. She mentioned that the office responsible for prison inspections was currently revising the Inspection Framework. Additionally, she informed the members about a survey that the OIP wanted to conduct, specifically targeting families and professionals working with families affected by imprisonment.  

She also informed the Network about the ability to track the OIP’s inspection process through the new Recommendations Tracker feature on their website.

The duration of phone calls presented as one of the main issues relating to families that was identified by people in prison custody during inspections. 


Ashling Tobin, IPRT Children and Families Initiative Project Coordinator, provided the Network with an overview of the recent work of IPRT in the area of children and families of people in prison. 

IPRT is currently investigating the possibility of an ambitious joint project with an international partner. Hopefully there will be more information on this to follow on this.

The book project with children of people in prison has progressed and children have been engaged with. You can read more about the status of the book project here.

IPRT has been engaged in a number of events including the Disrupting Prison Policy’ event, the IPRT launch of “The Secondary Punishment”: A Scoping Study on Employer Attitudes to Hiring People with Criminal Convictions report and IPRT Prison Law Seminar: Sentencing – Alternatives to Imprisonment. IPRT is also due to attend upcoming events such as the Family Matters grantee network meeting, the IPRT and NIACRO All-Island event titled Criminal Justice System North and South – Current Challenges and Opportunities for Change.

The Network received an overview on the Families Outside: Families Affected by Imprisonment training that Aisling is attending on behalf IPRT. The training covers three modules:

  • Module 1: Understanding the issues for families affected by imprisonment. 
  • Module 2: Supporting children and young people who have a family member in prison. 
  • Module 3: Prison and prison visits. 


The Network members are involved in a number of projects:


Online meeting, Monday 17 June 2024 at 2.30pm.

If you want to find out more about joining the Network, please email Ashling Tobin on atobin@iprt.ie.