10 Aug 2022

New boss for Irish Prison Service confirmed

irish prison

The new boss of the Irish Prison Service which runs jails in Portlaoise has 'vast experience' according to Laois TD Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

The Minister announced that Ms Caron McCaffrey as the new Director General (DG) of a service that has more than 3,000 staff and a €340 million annual budget.

Ms McCaffrey was selected by the Top Level Appointments Committee following an open recruitment process. She takes up her new role today, Thursday, December 13, replacing the outgoing DG Michael Donnellan. He retired early at the start of November.

The Department of Justice says Ms McCaffrey worked for 18 years in the justice sector, first serving in the Department of Justice and Equality in Asylum Policy Division, the Press Office, and the Youth Justice Unit before taking up a role in the Irish Prison Service in 2006 as Press and Programme Manager.  She was promoted to Director of Corporate Services in 2008 and has since held responsibility for a range of portfolios including Human Resources, and Finance and Estates.

She is a graduate of NUI Maynooth (BA) and Dublin City University (MA International Relations), holds an Advanced Diploma in Applied Employment Law from the Kings Inns, and recently graduated from the UCD Smurfit Business School with a Postgraduate Diploma in Corporate Governance. 

Ms McCaffrey says she is honoured to be appointed to the role of Director General of the Irish Prison Service. 

"The Irish Prison Service is a unique and important frontline Service made up of over 3,200 dedicated and committed men and women with diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences.  There are many challenges we face, now and into the future, but I am confident that we will continue to meet those challenges and grow together as an organisation based on excellence through our people.

"I also look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Justice and Equality, the wider criminal justice system and other key statutory and non-statutory stakeholders as we strive to deliver the best service possible, to achieve the best outcomes for those in our care and to contribute to a safer Ireland,” she said in a statement.

Welcoming the new DG, the Minister said: ”I warmly congratulate Caron McCaffrey on her appointment to this important role within the overall justice and equality sector.  The Irish Prison Service is a vital component of the criminal justice system and fulfils a challenging remit on behalf of the community.

"Caron has vast experience in the IPS working in a variety of leadership roles over the past 12 years.  I look forward to working with her as the new Director General and wish her well in this demanding role.  Her leadership will be essential in building on the significant advances made in recent years, and in continuing to embed and drive further improvements in how we provide safe, secure, humane and rehabilitative custody for people sent to prison in line with international human rights standards,” she said.

The Minister also thanked Mr Don Culliton who has served as Acting Director General since Mr Donnellan stepped down in November.

The Department of Justice says the DG has responsibility for the leadership and management of the Service and the implementation of Government policies and strategies. This includes leading a management team responsible for the operation and management of the prison system on a day-to-day basis which will include all aspects of sentence administration, security, human resources, financial control and service development.

The Department says the DG is accountable for providing strong leadership and direction in a complex and rapidly evolving pressurised environment with a team of more than 3,200 staff and a budget of approximately €340 million.


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