Yes or No Minister: The Importance of the Politician-Senior Civil Servant Dyad in Irish Prison Policy

Mary Rogan, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article

The Prison Journal


Irish prison policy is notable for the absence of an ideological agenda driving its direction and content. This article examines the impact of the relationship between Minister for Justice, the member of Cabinet responsible for the criminal justice system and prisons in Ireland, and the most senior civil servant within that Department, in the creation of this policy landscape. The Minister-Secretary General dyad in the area of Irish prison policy during the early 1960s is explored in order to assess the importance of this relationship in the formation of prison policy. This period was one of the few in Irish penal history when momentum to change the prison system was evident. The article draws on emerging scholarship on policy analysis within criminology. It suggests that engagement with the policy-making process can provide meaningful data to explain the nature of criminal justice policy.