Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

UK PM pushes for prisoner switch

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is to investigate if the Government 'can do a little better' on returning Irish prisoners
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is to investigate if the Government 'can do a little better' on returning Irish prisoners

British Justice Secretary Ken Clarke will be asked to see if the UK government can "do a little better" over the removal of Irish prisoners from British jails, David Cameron said.

The UK Prime Minister was responding to demands from a Tory MP that Dublin should take back Irish nationals who are serving jail sentences in Britain.

Philip Hollobone (MP for Kettering) pointed out that Ireland had "one of the largest groups" of foreign nationals held in prison in Britain.

At Prime Minister's Question Time in London he said: "Given that we are about to lend them more than £7 billion, could the Irish Republic be persuaded to pay for the incarceration of these people by taking them back to jails in their own country?"

Mr Cameron replied: "You make an extremely good point. We are looking at how you can transfer prisoners, foreign nationals from the UK to other countries.

"Obviously with Ireland the situation is slightly different because of the long relationship between our two countries.

"The previous government announced that it would not routinely support the deportation of Irish nationals from the UK. This was announced in February 2007.

"Since then there has been a European directive which is actually helpful because it makes more automatic the removal of prisoners to other countries.

"But there is still this specific issue with Ireland and I am going to ask the Justice Secretary to look at it and see if we can do a little better."

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