S.I. No. 217/1972 - Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1972.

S.I. No. 217 of 1972.


I, DIARMUID Ó CRÓINÍN, Minister for Defence, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 5 of the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 (No. 11 of 1925), as applied and modified by section 2 of the Prisons Act, 1972 (No. 7 of 1972), hereby order as follows:—

1. This Order may be cited as the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1972.

2. The Interpretation Act, 1937 (No. 38 of 1937), applies to this Order.

3. The rules set forth in the Schedule to this Order shall apply to every Visiting Committee constituted under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 , as applied and modified by the Prisons Act, 1972 , for places in which persons are kept in military custody pursuant to section 2 of the said Prisons Act, 1972 .



(1) Every Visiting Committee, at their first meeting after appointment, shall appoint a chairman, and make arrangements for the regular attendance of their members at the prison for the purpose of carrying out the duties assigned to them.

(2) They shall meet as a Committee at the prison once in each month, or, if the Committee pass a resolution that, for reasons specified in the resolution, less frequent meetings are sufficient, not less than six times in each year. At such meetings three members shall constitute a quorum. Minutes of all meetings shall be recorded in a book which shall be kept for that purpose.

(3) They shall be entitled at all times to visit either collectively or individually the prison in respect of which they have been appointed and shall have free access to every part of such prison, and shall be entitled to inspect the books of the prison.

(4) They shall, either collectively or individually at frequent intervals, visit the prison, and shall hear and investigate any complaint which any prisoner may desire to make to them, and if so requested by the prisoner they shall hear such complaint in private. If necessary they shall report the same to the Minister with their opinion thereon.

(5) They shall investigate any report which they may receive as to the mind or body of any prisoner being likely to be injured by the discipline or treatment to which he is subjected, and if necessary shall communicate their opinion thereon to the Minister.

(6) They shall frequently inspect the diets of the prisoners and if they find that the quality of any article does not fulfil the terms of the contract under which it was supplied they shall report the facts to the Minister.

(7) They shall, as far as practicable, co-operate with the Governor in all matters where their assistance and advice are likely to be helpful to him.

(8) They shall co-operate with the Minister in promoting the efficiency of the service, and shall make enquiry into any matter specially referred to them by the Minister and report their opinion thereon.

(9) They shall assist the Minister in the selection of library books suitable for prisoners.

(10) They shall enquire into the conditions of prison labour, whether the employments provided are sufficient and of the kind most suitable for preparing prisoners for earning their livelihood on release, and they shall assist the Minister with advice and suggestions as to the employment and occupation of prisoners.

(11) They shall, as far as practicable, from time to time, satisfy themselves as to the operation of the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies connected with the prison ; and of any other agencies having for their object the welfare of prisoners.

(12) They shall devote special attention to prisoners about to be discharged and shall co-operate with the Governor and Chaplains with the object of securing that all reasonable steps are taken to provide against a relapse into crime on the part of any prisoner where it might be averted by a judicious expenditure of his gratuity, or by communication with a Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society, or by correspondence with any charitable person or agency likely to assist the prisoner in an endeavour to earn an honest living.

(13) They may, subject to the approval of the Minister, organise lectures and addresses in the prison provided that such lectures and addresses do not interfere with the necessities of prison discipline and are directed towards the moral improvement of the prisoners.

(14) They shall report to the Minister any abuses observed or found by them in the prison, and any repairs to the prison which appear to them to be urgently needed.

(15) A Visiting Committee, and every member thereof, shall have power to grant the privileges hereinafter specified, provided that before granting any such privilege they shall satisfy themselves that it can be granted without interfering with the security, good order and government of the prison and prisoners therein, and if, after it has been granted, its continuance seems likely to cause any such interference or if the prisoner has abused the privilege or has been guilty of any misconduct they shall suspend or withdraw the privilege:—

(a) They may, for special reasons, in the case of a prisoner awaiting trial, or a debtor or contempt of court prisoner, allow the period of a visit to be prolonged, or allow him to be visited by more than two persons at the same time, or allow additional visits or letters to such reasonable extent as they may deem advisable;

(b) They may allow a juvenile offender to receive extra visits if, in their opinion, such visits are desirable and calculated to improve his moral and material welfare;

(c) They may in a case of special importance or urgency allow any prisoner an additional visit or letter or prolong the period of a visit;

(d) They may, by writing, authorise a prisoner under sentence of death to be visited by a relative, friend or legal advisor or by any person who satisfies them that he has important business to transact with the prisoner;

(e) They may permit prisoners awaiting trial to have supplied to them at their own expense such books, newspapers or other means of occupation as are not of an objectionable nature;

(f) They may, in the case of any prisoner awaiting trial, if, having regard to his ordinary habits and condition of life, they think special provision should be made in his case, permit him—

(1) to occupy on payment of a small sum fixed by the Minister, a room or cell specially fitted for such prisoners, and furnished with suitable bedding and other articles in addition to or different from those furnished for ordinary cells;

(2) to have at his own expense the use of private furniture or utensils suitable to his ordinary habits, to be approved by the Governor;

(3) to have, on payment of a small sum fixed by the Minister, the assistance of some person, to be appointed by the Governor, to relieve him from the performance of unaccustomed tasks or offices ;

(g) They may, in the case of a prisoner awaiting trial, permit him to take exercise separately or with selected untried prisoners if the arrangements and construction of the prison will so allow, and they may authorise the Governor to modify the routine of the prison in regard to any such prisoner so far as to dispense with any practice which in the opinion of the Governor is clearly unnecessary in that particular case ;

(h) They may, in the case of any prisoner awaiting trial who is out of health and desires the attendance of his usual medical attendant, if they are satisfied that the application is bona fide, permit him to be visited by that medical attendant at his own expense, and to be supplied with medicine by him.

(16) A Visiting Committee or any one or more members thereof may, on the request of the Governor or of the Minister, hold an enquiry and examine on oath into the truth of any charge of breach of prison discipline, and may in any case where they are satisfied that a prisoner has been guilty of any serious or repeated offence award any one or more of the following punishments:—

(a) Close confinement for a period not exceeding 14 days ;

(b) D1 diet for ill-conducted and idle prisoners for a period not exceeding 15 days with intervals as laid down in the rules for prison dietaries ;

(c) D2 diet for ill-conducted or idle prisoners for a period not exceeding 42 days, with intervals as laid down in the rules for prison dietaries ;

(d) Forfeiture of the privilege of remission of sentence or of the privileges of any stage for a period not exceeding 28 days.

Provided that no punishment shall be awarded to a prisoner until he has had an opportunity of hearing the charges and evidence against him and of making his defence.

(17) If the Governor represents to the Visiting Committee or to a member thereof that he has, as a matter of urgent necessity, put a prisoner in irons or under other mechanical restraint and that it is necessary that the prisoner be so kept for more than twenty-four hours, they or one of them may authorise the detention by order in writing, which shall specify the cause thereof and the time during which the prisoner is to be so kept.

(18) Every Visiting Committee shall, in the month of December in each year, make an annual report to the Minister with regard to all or any of the matters referred to in these rules or to any other matter appertaining to the prison that they may deem expedient, and they shall from time to time make such reports to the Minister as they may consider necessary, concerning any matter in relation to the prison to which, in their opinion, attention should be called.

(19) In these rules "the Minister" means the Minister for Defence.

GIVEN under my Official Seal, this 6th day of September, 1972.


Minister for Defence.


This Order prescribes the duties and powers of Visiting Committees constituted under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 , as applied and modified by the Prisons Act, 1972 .