Press Release

The Irish Prison Service becomes the first public or private employer to be awarded the prestigious Amber Flag by Pieta. This recognition highlights the Service's unwavering commitment to fostering mental well-being and creating inclusive and supportive environments within its organisation.

Pieta's Amber Flag initiative, originally designed for educational institutions, has now expanded to honour organisations that prioritise mental health.

This year, the Irish Prison Service, through the concerted efforts of its local committees in various locations, successfully met the criteria set forth by Pieta to earn the esteemed Amber Flag annually.

On September 13, 2023, a ceremony was held at the Irish Prison Service Headquarters in Longford. Representatives from the Department of Justice were in attendance, alongside Prison Governors and members of their respective local Amber Flag committees.

The Amber Flag for each prison location was presented by Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service, and Stephanie Manahan, the CEO of Pieta House. Speaking at the event, Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service said, “We are immensely proud to be recognised by Pieta and awarded the prestigious Amber Flag. Our staff understand the profound impact mental health has on individuals and those in our custody. Our dedicated staff works tirelessly to provide support and create an environment that promotes well-being. This achievement reflects our unwavering commitment to the mental health of both our staff and those in our care. We are honoured to be the first public or private employer to receive this recognition from Pieta, a respected mental health charity”.

The Irish Prison Service takes immense pride in this significant achievement. As an organisation committed to supporting individuals with mental health issues, it is truly fitting that they are the first to receive such recognition from the esteemed mental health charity, Pieta.

Pieta cut againSpeaking also at the event, Stephanie Manahan, Chief Executive Officer of Pieta said, "Pieta are delighted to be partners with the Irish Prison Service as the first state body obtain an Amber Flag. We recognise the essential roll the Irish Prison Service plays and the extraordinary responsibility and stress that can accompany their role."

Recognising the prevalence of mental health challenges among those in their custody, the Irish Prison Service embarked on this initiative with great dedication. Through a series of events, including Darkness into Light Walks held at several prison locations, guest speaker sessions, exercise classes, information campaigns, and improved access to formal support services, the prison staff demonstrated their commitment to supporting one another.

Additionally, the Irish Prison Service staff actively participated in fundraising efforts, raising an impressive €22,569 for Pieta. This contribution further exemplifies their dedication to promoting mental well-being and supporting the invaluable work of Pieta in the community.

This outstanding achievement by the Irish Prison Service serves as an inspiration to organisations across sectors, emphasising the importance of prioritising mental health support and creating inclusive environments. The Service's commitment to enhancing the lives of individuals with mental health challenges sets a commendable example for others to follow.


About the Irish Prison Service

The Irish Prison Service forms a key component of the criminal justice system. Its fundamental role is to help achieve a safer and fairer Ireland by:

  • Providing safe and secure custody with dignity of care for people committed to prison.

  • Reducing the risk of harm to the public and the likelihood of reoffending by providing rehabilitation for people in prison.

  • Working with the Probation Service to create an integrated offender management programme.

  • Assisting people in prison maintain family relations and contact with the wider community.

  • Ensuring the health and safety of all those who live and work in our prisons through the implementation of effective infection control measures and supporting policies and procedures at local and national level.

The Irish Prison Service is responsible for the safe and secure custody of persons sentenced to prison, held on remand, or held on immigration matters. It is responsible for ensuring that convicted persons properly serve their sentence and for providing them with opportunities to engage in a meaningful way to reduce the likelihood of re-offending and assist their reintegration into law-abiding society.

The Irish Prison Service deals with male and female offenders who are 18 years of age or older. There are 12 operational prisons in the Irish prison estate, comprising of 10 traditional ‘closed’ prisons and two ‘open’ centres (the latter operate with minimal internal and perimeter security).

Pieta: The objectives of the Amber Flag initiative are;

1. Promoting Positive Mental Health

2. Enhancing inclusivity through teamwork and social support

3. Reducing risk factors through increased awareness and education

4. Improving quality of life for those with mental health challenges

Pieta first opened its doors in Lucan, County Dublin in 2006. Since then we have seen and helped over 70,000 people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm.

We now operate 20 locations across Ireland. Pieta now employs over 300 therapists and support staff, and the demand for our service is increasing. For more information, click here

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