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UCC School of Law familial imprisonment project awarded IRC funding

20 May 2020

Dr Fiona Donson and Dr Aisling Parkes from the School of Law will lead on the project, which will be delivered in collaboration with the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

The imprisonment of a parent or other family member is recognised to have potential harmful effects across a range of critical areas including health, education and housing. However, little Irish data is available regarding children and family’s lived experiences of the imprisonment of a loved one, and no national support services exist for this group. Indeed, their needs and vulnerabilities are largely unacknowledged in national policy relating to children.  

The School of Law’s Dr Fiona Donson and Dr Aisling Parkes have recently been awarded funding by the Irish Research Council (IRC) to establish an Irish network of all those working with children and families experiencing familial imprisonment.

This project will undertake research to provide a snapshot of how, if at all, children in particular are supported in the context of familial imprisonment in Ireland. The project, a collaboration between academics in UCC Law School and the Irish Penal Reform Trust, builds on a number of previous initiatives and aims to support the formal establishment of a network of those concerned with improving supports for children and families who have an imprisoned family member in Ireland. This will include academics, practitioners and people with direct experience, and will seek to create connections whereby academic research and organisational practice can cooperate and cross-fertilise to achieve strong policy and practice impacts.

Further info:

Previous collaboration with the Irish Penal Reform Trust

Dr Fiona Donson and Dr Aisling Parkes have previously worked with the Irish Penal Reform Trust on a project entitled “Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison”. This project, and the resulting document, raised awareness off the issued affecting children with a parent in prison, and set out a series of guiding principles to better recognise these children and support their needs. This newly funded research will build on this project’s findings and recommendations from 2017.

More info here:

IRC funding

This project is being funded under the IRC New Foundations 2019 awards scheme. New Foundations supports researchers to pursue research, networking and dissemination activities within and between all disciplines. It provides seed funding for small-scale research actions; the development of networks, consortia and workshops; and creative approaches to the communication of scientific concepts or complex societal challenges for a lay audience.

For more information on this IRC initiative, visit:

School of Law

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