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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

The Explainer x Noteworthy: Are kids being locked out from jailed parents?

Investigative reporter Alice Chambers and former prison governor John Lonergan tell Susan Daly about how some children are struggling to get access to their loved ones in prison.

LAST UPDATE | 17 hours ago

“I want my kids to know who their father is.”

Gabrielle’s* two young children waited a year during the pandemic before they could see their father Paul* in prison. She tries to get weekend visits but when they’re booked out, she has to take the kids out of school.

That is just one of the issues exposed in the latest in-depth series by Noteworthy 
which finds prison visits have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, leaving children cut off from their parents in prison.

Our CALLING TIME investigation reveals that overcrowding and understaffing mean that rights on paper aren’t always fulfilled in practice, causing some families to go without the visits they’re entitled to.

But families told investigative reporter Alice Chambers that even what would be considered ‘normal’ visiting conditions are not fit for children. 

This week, in an episode of The Explainer brought to you by Noteworthy, we ask why that is the case and whether it is set to change any time soon.

John Lonergan, a former prison governor of Mountjoy and Portlaoise prisons joins the podcast and Gabrielle recounts obstacles she has faced when visiting prison with her children.

Presenter Susan Daly also chats with Chambers about her investigation’s findings. 

*Names have been changed

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by Alice Chambers, Susan Daly and producer Maria Delaney. 


This investigation was supported by a grant from the St Stephen’s Green Trust. Our project was fully editorially independent as outlined in our Fairness Policy.