Background and context
The Travellers in Prison Initiative (TPI) was developed by SSGT in 2014 as a response to the particular needs and circumstances of Travellers in prison in Ireland. The need for the initiative was identified in the recommendations of the Irish Penal Reform Trust’s 2014 qualitative study, Travellers in the Irish Prison System, part-funded by SSGT and which is available on their website here. The report includes interviews with 10 former prisoners and documents issues faced by Traveller prisoners in prison and leaving prison. At the time SSGT was also funding Meath Travellers for their work in Wheatfield prison.
Although Travellers only account for 0.7% of the overall population in the Republic of Ireland it is estimated that they account for 10% of the general prison population and 15% of the female prison population (source: Irish Prison Service, 2018). The disproportionate representation of Travellers in the penal system is not unique to Ireland; the same trend can be found in other countries with an indigenous minority ethnic population.
TPI seeks to embed changes in policy and practice which have a positive influence on Travellers in prison, their families and their communities.
Who we are
TPI is managed by St Stephen’s Green Trust with a part-time Coordinator, Anne Costello. It is funded by SSGT, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service. An interagency steering group, chaired by Maria Joyce, guides the direction of TPI. Members include representatives from Pavee Point, National Traveller Women’s Forum, Irish Traveller Movement, the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Mincéirs Whiden, Exchange House, Traveller Counselling Service, HSE Social Inclusion Unit, IASIO, The Irish Red Cross, the City of Dublin Education and Training Board, Traveller Mediation Service and National Traveller MABS.
Anne Costello can be contacted through the SSGT office or:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: 085 863 0565
Approach to work
The TPI uses an approach which seeks to 1) identify innovative solutions to challenges, 2) work with key stakeholders in addressing 3) piloting their implementation, and through 4) testing and demonstrating successes of pilot approaches, 5) negotiate their mainstreaming.
This approach allows for an innovative and problem-solving approach to be undertaken.