IPEA Inaugural Conference

The inaugural conference of the Irish Prison Education Association was held in Butler House, Kilkenny, Ireland on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th November, 2004.

During the Friday evening session, there was the election of officers to the Executive Committee. A draft constitution was discussed, amendments were proposed and the IPEA constitution was finalised and ratified.
On Saturday morning Anne Costelloe, Deputy Secretary of the European Prison Education Association, gave a presentation on the EPEA and its website. This was followed by a discussion on the future of the IPEA, its plans and aspirations.
The keynote address for the conference was given by Dr. Ted Fleming, Acting Head of Department of Adult and Community Education, NUI, Maynooth. Titled “Prison and Civil Society: A dialogue with Educators”, the address was very interesting and wide-ranging.

Report from the Executive Committee of
The IPEA 2004-05

Annual General Meeting, Kilkenny, 2005

The inaugural year has been a busy time for the Irish Prison Education Association (IPEA).  The following is a report of the activities of the Executive Committee for the year 2004-2005:

  • In January, 2005, the chairman, Cormac Behan was asked to address a gathering of Prison Teachers from the Northern Ireland Prison Service in Co. Armagh.  He stressed the need for further co-operation and enhanced collaboration between educators, north and south.
  • The Council of Europe’s European Prison Rules (EPR) are currently under revision.  The Executive Committee on behalf of the IPEA contributed to a revision of the Prison Rules.  We were keen that the commitment to education contained in the EPR must not be diluted.  We corresponded with the Minister for Justice who was meeting his counterparts in Iceland in July to discuss the revision of the European Prison Rules.
  • The Executive Committee wrote to the media about the closure of Mountjoy Prison.  We also communicated our concerns about the closure of the Curragh and Fort Mitchel Prisons to both the Head Teachers group and the Prison Education Council.
  • Martin Fahy has created this website for the IPEA (www.epea.org/ipea). There are details of current events and some archive material on the website.  Membership forms can also be downloaded from the site.
  • Eleanor Jones created a logo (above right on this report) for the IPEA which will appear on all our literature in the future and on the website (top left hand side).
  • A total of six representatives attended the 10th European Prison Education Association (EPEA) conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Our Liaison Person, Zachary Sex forwarded a report to all members in June.  Three Irish members presented papers to the conference.  There were two major pieces of news from the conference.  The IPEA has agreed to host the next EPEA conference in Ireland in 2007.  Our Executive Committee member, Anne Costelloe was elected deputy chair of the EPEA.  She will become chair of the EPEA on 1 July, 2006 and her term of office will run until 2009.
  • Anne Costelloe kept the Committee up to date with the activities of the EPEA with regular reports from the Steering Committee of the EPEA of which she is a member.
  • The chair, Cormac Behan in his capacity as International Representative on the Board of the Correctional Education Association (CEA) participated in an International Corrections Forum at the CEA conference in Des Moines.  He stressed the need for greater co-operation between prison educators internationally.  He has also been invited to contribute a regular report to the CEA Journal of Correctional Education on behalf of the EPEA.
  • The Irish Prison Education Association was honoured to be invited to chair the 2005 Liam Minihan Memorial Lecture.  It was addressed by Professor Stephen Duguid of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada on the theme ‘Canada’s cognitive Correction – Diagnosis, Dosage, Treatment’.  From 2007, the IPEA will organise the Liam Minihan Memorial Lecture.

Report on EPEA Conference, Sofia 2005

This year the EPEA held its tenth biennial conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. This was the first time the newly formed IPEA was represented with a number of Irish members in attendance.

The conference was titled “Challenges for Prison Education – Let’s make the changes together”. The format consisted of talks, workshops, events and prison visits with delegates being brought to the male prison, Stara Zagora, correctional home for juveniles-boichinoutzi and the male prison Lovech. The visits were very enlightening with the delegates being struck by the formal and highly structured systems in adult units while the juveniles-boichinoutzi performed a religious pageant for their visitors. Many delegates were impressed by the Bulgarian teachers and authorities concern for their charges and their willingness to embrace change and modernisation.

Over the five days of the conference more than sixteen workshops took place. The Irish delegates contribution did not disappoint with our group holding two very different sessions, the first by Maggie Byme and Eleanor Jones being a combined art and drama production based on a puppetry project held in the Medical Unit of Mountjoy Prison. Their session ended with delegates making their own shadow puppets and improvising their own scripts to hilarious results. The second workshop given by IPEA’s chairman, Cormac Behan, was titled -“Vigilance, imagination, courage – the role of the teacher in prison education” and this generated heated debate and provided much food for thought. For full text of paper see Articles page.

Our warmest congratulations must go to Anne Costelloe of Mountjoy Prison who was elected Acting Chair from July 2005 and will become Chairperson of the EPEA for a three year period starting July 2006. She will therefore be in a key position when the EPEA conference is held in Ireland in two years time.