Practice Relating to Rule 126. Visits to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including violations of Article 116 of the Geneva Convention IV, is a punishable offence.
Ireland’s Prison Rules (2007) state:
(1) Subject to the provisions of these Rules, a convicted prisoner who has reached the age of 18 years shall be entitled to receive by prior appointment not less than one visit from relatives or friends each week of not less than 30 minutes duration.
2) Subject to the provisions of these Rules, a convicted prisoner who has not reached the age of 18 years shall be entitled to receive by prior appointment not less than two visits from relatives or friends each week of not less than 30 minutes in duration.
(3) Subject to the provisions of these Rules, an unconvicted prisoner shall be entitled to receive one visit per day from relatives or friends of not less than 15 minutes in duration on each of six days of the week, where practicable, but in any event, on not less than on each of three days of the week.
(4) The Governor may permit –
(a) a prisoner to receive such number of visits in excess of the minimum number specified in this Rule, or
(b) any visit to which paragraph (1), (2) or (3) applies, to continue for a period in excess of the minimum period specified therein, where he or she is of the opinion that to so permit would, in relation to the prisoner’s welfare or rehabilitation, be beneficial.
(5) In the interest of good order and safe and secure custody –
(a) (i) the persons allowed visit any individual prisoner may be restricted by the Governor to persons nominated for the time being by the prisoner, and (ii) the number of persons allowed visit any one prisoner at the same time may be restricted by the Governor to not more than three persons, and
(b) the Governor may restrict the number of persons who may be nominated by a prisoner in accordance with paragraph (5) (a) (i) but, in any case, the number of such persons may not be less than six.
(6) A prisoner who is entitled under this Rule to receive a visit may request the Governor to notify or cause to be notified those persons from whom the prisoner wishes to receive a visit, and the Governor shall do so, in so far as is practicable, and subject to the maintenance of good order and safe and secure custody.
(7) The Governor shall publish in the prison the days and times on which visits under this Rule may take place.
(8) A person, who is not a relative or friend, wishing to visit a prisoner shall make an application in writing to the Governor, detailing the purpose of the visit and such a visit may be permitted subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified by the Governor.
(9) The Governor, shall consider whether or not a visit should be permitted under paragraph (8) and, if so, what if any conditions should be imposed and take into account,
(a) the prisoner’s consent or otherwise to the visit
(b) the interests of the prisoner
(c) the need to maintain good order and safe and secure custody within the prison,
(d) the need to avoid:
(i) the facilitation or encouragement of a criminal offence or the hampering of the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence,
(ii) any person being threatened or put in fear,
(iii) serious offence or distress being caused to any person, including the victim, or family of the victim, of the crime for which the prisoner has been convicted,
(iv) giving rise to a legal action by a third party,
(v) jeopardising the interests of national security or
(vi) infringing the rights and freedoms of another person (including the
right to privacy of another prisoner), and
(e) any guidelines issued by the Director General.
(10) A prisoner shall not be under any obligation to receive a visit under paragraph (9).