HC Deb 05 February 1998 vol 305 cc768-9W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what factors underlay the delays in effecting inter-jurisdictional transfers of prisoners between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. [27544]

Mr. Ingram

Since the Republic of Ireland ratified the Convention on the transfer of Sentenced Persons in November 1995, there have been 18 applications for transfer from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. Arising from those applications, 9 prisoners have been repatriated; a further 4 applications have been approved; 2 were withdrawn; 1 has been refused and 2 remain under consideration. Six applications have also been made for repatriation from Northern Ireland to the Republic; 5 were recently submitted and are being processed and one application was subsequently withdrawn by the prisoner concerned.

Factors which may not enable some applications to be processed immediately on receipt are largely the necessity to seek further information or clarification which will enable an informed decision to be made on the applicants eligibility for repatriation.

Under the Convention for the transfer of sentenced persons, to which both the UK and the Republic of Ireland are signatories, the two States involved in any transfer are required to exchange information in advance of making a determination regarding the applicant and also to provide the prisoner with information regarding the effect of the repatriation on his sentence to allow him on balance to decide whether to accept the transfer.

My right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland are of course responsible for such matters relating to each of their own jurisdictions.