The Justice Minister says he expects a new policy for transgender prisoners to be finalised “in the next few weeks”.
Simon Harris was speaking after the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said ‘violent biological males’ should not be housed in women’s prisons.
Mr Varadkar was responding to questions about a transgender woman who was last week jailed for threatening to torture, rape and murder her mother.
The 21-year-old, who legally changed her name and was granted a gender recognition certificate in 2020, was sent to Limerick Women’s Prison to begin her five-and-a-half-year sentence.
Speaking this afternoon, the interim Justice Minister Simon Harris said he believed the point the Taoiseach was making was that, “there is no circumstance, regardless of gender, where anybody should be at risk of violence in prison.”
"There is no circumstance, regardless of gender, where anybody should be at risk of violence in prison."
The Justice Minister says he expects a new policy for transgender prisoners to be finalised “in the next few weeks”. pic.twitter.com/rRPa3vHsVI
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) March 22, 2023
“The first thing to say is, when we look at the prison population, the most important thing for the Irish Prison Service to do in any scenario is ensure the safety and wellbeing of all prisoners and all prison staff,” he said.
“I want to absolutely assure people today that the individual risk assessments carried out on all prisoners, regardless of gender, is of paramount importance.”
He said he can’t comment on any individual case – but insisted that in any circumstance where there is a risk to the safety of prisoners and prison staff, “there are mechanisms and operational procedures in place to ensure that such a prisoner in incarcerated - is imprisoned - in an appropriate way.”
Minister Harris said the Irish Prison Service (IPS) is working a new policy for transgender prisoners that he expects to see finalised in the next few weeks.
“This is a policy that will be informed by best international practice,” he said. “Indeed, they are looking at a number of other jurisdictions in terms of how this is being approached.”