The case law in regard to these indignities has become more frequent in recent years,particularly at European Court of Human Rights level, where the rulings of the court havebecome more condemning in recent times.The solution proposed by the Government to these problems is to build new,modernised, prison places but this, as will be argued, is a short-term fix and will notrehabilitate offenders in the long run.
2. Introduction to Irish Prison Law
When compared with the large body of cases taken under the European Convention of Human Rights and in other jurisdictions such as England, Irish cases on prisoners
rights arerelatively sparse.
In the few judgments that have been delivered, however, the courts haveadopted a strictly conservative approach, refraining from extending the rights of prisonerswhile incarcerated. One of the earliest judgments to consider the legal nature of imprisonmentwas
Murray v Ireland
. In this judgment, Costello J held that the State enjoyed a power, asopposed to a right, to imprison. Thus,
it has been argued that “t
he court is being asked toadjudicate on the exercise of a legal power and not on a conflict between the exercise of twocompeting rights.
Since the Constitution expressly directs the State to protect theconstitutional rights of citizens and also empowers it to act to protect its citizens for thefurtherance of the common good, the real issue is "whether the restrictions on the plaintiffs'rights caused by the exercise of the State's power to imprison the plaintiffs are
still endure considerable suffering and deprivation of basic humanity.
Interview with Fr. Pat Hogan, TheMaldron Hotel, Limerick, Wednesday 8
Herrick suggests a number of reasons for this including difficulty of prisoners in accessing legalrepresentation, a degree of passivity on the part of the legal professions and a resistance on the part of the judiciary to entertain prisoner cases. Herrick, in Kilkelly (ed) ECHR and Irish Law (2
ed), Bristol [England]:Jordans, 2009. For more on difficulties in accessing legal representation see Whyte
Social Inclusion and the Legal System: Public Interest Law in Ireland
(IPA, 2002) Chapter 9.
 I.L.R.M. 542
An Introduction to Irish Prison Law, (2008)
Prison Service Training and Development Centre Document,www.ecopoliticsonline.com