Deflecting the Law from its Course: Capital Punishment and Clemency in Ireland, 1923-1990

25 Nov

The 32nd Hugh M Fitzpatrick Lecture in Legal Bibliography will be delivered this year by Professor Ian O’Donnell, who will talk on his research on clemency and capital punishment in Ireland from 1923 to 1990.

Ian O’Donnell is a Professor of Criminology at University College Dublin, a member of the Royal Irish Academic, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

The lecture will be held in the Bar Library of Ireland, Law Library, Distillery Building, 145-151 Church Street, Dublin 7.

It will commence at 6pm on Tuesday 1st December and will be followed by a wine reception.


A tribute to Paul O’Mahony by Kevin Warner

16 Nov

I knew Paul O’Mahony from about 1980 when he came to work in the Prisons Division of the Department of Justice, and for a dozen years or so (until he went to Trinity) our offices and that of Paul Murphy were next to each other. I have a feeling the Department of Justice didn’t really want a social psychologist focused on research – but they got one anyway courtesy of the Civil Service Commission. They were fairly ok with psychologists looking inside people’s heads, but not so keen at looking at wider issues such as the lives those in prison experienced, their backgrounds and the social issues which brought them into prison.

In that period, and later at Trinity College, Paul examined really important matters such as, for example, addiction, the situation in the old Women’s Prison, the youngsters in St. Patrick’s Institution and Shanganagh Castle, suicide in prison, the peculiar nature of the Irish prison system compared to other European countries and (at the urging of John Lonergan) seminal studies of the men and women in Mountjoy. Paul also focused on the criminal justice system as a whole and published six books and a great range of other studies. So, for example, when a judge issued a report on the Kerry Babies case which whitewashed the behaviour of the Gardai, Paul’s report on that report was forensic and scathing. Paul’s work was always academically rigorous, but for me the core quality was always a seeking out of truth, often the uncomfortable truth, and, most especially, he spoke truth to power.

What also comes across greatly in Paul’s research is the humanity. He could do the statistics, but we always see ‘the whole person’, people in all their complexity, their qualities as well as their problems, the lives they live, their backgrounds and experience. Through it all there is a deep commitment to social justice.

At times, Paul would feel his work didn’t get the attention it deserved. However, as I’m doing a little work at UCC just now, I was able to tell him recently how the Boole Library in Cork has multiple copies of all his books, all very well thumbed and marked. That pleased him, but of course, being Paul, he also had a little grumble about places where the books were no so well represented. Paul shouldn’t have doubted that he is the father – perhaps I should say the grandfather – of criminology and criminal justice study in Ireland, work that speaks of and for the troubled and troublesome in our society. We should be hugely grateful for that, and I have no doubt his writing will endure and continue to be of value to us all.

Kevin Warner was a former colleague and close friend of Paul O’Mahony. This is the text of his tribute delivered at Paul’s funeral on Saturday 14.11.15.

Dr Paul O’Mahony RIP

14 Nov

The death has taken place of Paul O’Mahony,  one of Ireland’s foremost criminologists and a founding member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT). Paul O’Mahony made a unique contribution to the study of crime and justice in Ireland. An advocate of prison reform and social justice, he was the author of a landmark study of prisoners in Ireland – Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile.  He also wrote and edited a number of other books which all clearly articulated the need for a more humane response to those processed through the criminal justice system:

Crime and Punishment in Ireland (1993)

Criminal Chaos. Seven Crises in Irish Criminal Justice (1996)

Prison Policy in Ireland. Criminal Justice versus Social Justice (2000)

Criminal Justice in Ireland (2002)

The Irish War on Drugs : The Seductive Folly of Prohibition (2008)

His work is foundational and will continue to be widely read. We express our sympathies to his family and friends at this time.

23.9.10. Dublin, Ireland. 'Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice'. Conf. in Gresham Hotel organised by Irish Penal Reform Trust, Barnardos & Irish Association for Young People in Care. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

23.9.10. Dublin, Ireland. ‘Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice’. Conf. in Gresham Hotel organised by Irish Penal Reform Trust, Barnardos & Irish Association for Young People in Care. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Prison Work Under Scrutiny – Event 30 November

6 Nov

Dublin Institute of Technology School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences are delighted to host an evening seminar, Prison Work under Scrutiny, on Monday 30 November 2015.

Confirmed speakers include: Judge Michael Reilly, Inspector of Prisons, Prof Debra Parkes, University of Manitoba, Dr Amy Ludlow, University of Cambridge, Dr Mary Rogan, Dublin Institute of Technology, and Colette Barry, Dublin Institute of Technology.

This event will bring together prison and associated staff, policymakers, academics, those who work with prison staff and prisoners, and all those interested in prison work and prison life to discuss developments in this area and build networks for future collaboration. Taking place at DIT’s Aungier Street campus, this event will promote public debate on current scholarship on prison work. Discussion will be guided by presentations from researchers across a range of jurisdictions.

Attendance is free, but places are limited. Registration will take place between 6.00 pm – 6.30 pm. Refreshments will be served. Please register on Eventbrite here.

Please address queries to Colette Barry:

Details: Room 2-024 (2nd floor), DIT Aungier Street

This event is funded by the Irish Research Council and the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences.

‘Crime, Justice and Society’ – Free online course from the University of Sheffield

8 Oct
‘Crime, Justice and Society’ is a free 7-week course from the University of Sheffield and goes live on Monday 12th October.
Utilising the skills, knowledge and experience of 10 leading academics from the School of Law, the course is an expansion of the University’s commitment to open access, digital learning and explores the judicial system of Great Britain and the wider world.
Through this free online course you’ll develop an understanding of, and critical perspective on, the role of the state in the regulation of criminal behaviour and the key parts played by those involved in the criminal justice system.
The course requires approx 3hrs of learning a week and takes the format of a mixture of videos, articles, discussions and quizzes. Futurelearn is a social learning platform and you will share the course with thousands of active learners from across the world, creating a unique environment where everyone’s experience feeds into each others learning.

Together, we’ll explore key themes of classic criminological research, contemporary debates on criminal justice institutions and processes, and international developments in policy and practice, focusing in particular on:

crime and criminal justice;
victims and victim support;
restorative justice;
prisons and places of confinement;
community sanctions and measures;
and desistance.

As well as academics, we’ll talk to those with firsthand experience of the criminal justice system, including probation officers, former prisoners and criminal lawyers. We’ll visit the police service in situ, witness a victim mediation session, speak to the Deputy Commissioner for Western Australia and even travel to Italy to learn about Cesare Lombroso, the father of modern criminology.

You’ll be invited to share your experiences and debate the key issues with other learners. What should the role of the police be? What are victims’ experiences of criminal justice and how can we support victims? Are there alternative responses to crime instead of prosecution and conviction?

‘Crime Justice and Society’ is the 8th free, open online course from the University of Sheffield, following subjects as diverse as dentistry, literature, health, employment, and songwriting. For more information about available courses please visit

Prison Education, Parenting and Re-entry – Half-Day Conference DIT

6 Oct

DIT is hosting a half-day conference on 15th October, on the theme of ‘Prison Education, Parenting and Re-entry’.

Bill Muth, of the Virginia Commonwealth University, is the keynote speaker, and will discuss phenomenological studies of incarcerated men’s lived experiences of being fathers in prison, as well as a preliminary policy analysis of the present and future of criminal justice policy-making in this area, comparing US and Nordic countries.

Attendance is free, and the eventbrite registration can be accessed here.

ACJRD 18th Annual Conference: ‘Victims in Focus’

1 Sep

The 18th Annual ACJRD conference will be held on Friday 2nd October in The Spencer Hotel in Dublin’s IFSC.

The theme of the conference will be ‘Victims in Focus: European and Domestic Perspectives’. The conference aims to explore the EU Victims Directive, bringing together a range of speakers from criminal justice agencies, as well as academics, who can speak to the impact of the Directive, and the legislative changes being ushered in.

Conference speakers will include:

  • Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D.
  • Katrien Lauwaert, Senior Researcher at the European Forum for Restorative Justice and Leuven Institute of Criminology, Belgium
  • Claire Loftus, Director of Prosecutions
  • Maria McDonald, BL
  • Inspector Lorraine Stack, Garda Victim Liaison Office, Garda Community Relations Bureau

Conference workshop presenters will include:

  • Dr Marsha Scott, Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Dr Eimear Spain, School of Law, University of Limerick
  • Cheryl Lamont, (Acting) Director, Probation Board for Northern Ireland
  •  Stephen Doyle, Founder & Director, Care After Prison
  •  Dr Gillian Harold, Postdoctoral Researcher, UCC
  •  Tom O’Malley, Senior Lecture, School of Law, NUI Galway
  •  Tara Brown, Volunteer Manager, Ruhama
  •  Naomi Feely, Senior Policy Officer, Age Action Ireland

Registration: Students €45, Members €99, Non-Members €120.

Further details on registration will be released by ACJRD soon.


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