Mark Kelly is an international human rights lawyer who has extensive international and national experience in the areas of monitoring prisons, police custody and administrative detention.
He was appointed as Chief Inspector of Prisons by the Minister for Justice in August 2022 and is the Chief Inspector Designate of the Office for the Inspection of Places of Detention, which will be designated as the National Preventive Mechanism for the criminal justice sector in Ireland under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).
In 2014, he was elected by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to that organisation’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), on which he served as Vice-President from 2017-2021.
Previously, he has served as a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights Commission and a member of the Board of the Equality Authority of Ireland, pending the creation of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, to which the President of Ireland appointed him as Commissioner in 2014.
Mark is also a former Head of Division in the Secretariat of the Council of Europe’s CPT (1991 – 2000) and former Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (2006-2016).
Helen Casey, Senior Inspector, a graduate of University of Limerick (MA in Human Rights in Criminal Justice). Helen joined the Inspectorate in November 2015, prior to this she held senior positions in the Irish Prison Service and in the Department of Justice.
Dr. Ciara O’Connell joined the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in December 2020. Prior to this, Ciara was Deputy Principal Investigator and Research Fellow with the PRILA (Prisons: the Rule of Law, Accountability and Rights) project, based out of Trinity College Dublin. In this role, she examined the experience of prison oversight from the perspective of people in prison and prison staff, specifically in Ireland, Scotland and Norway.
Ciara’s background also includes research on gender and human rights, with a particular focus on gendered harm in the African and Inter-American regional human rights contexts. In 2018, she was a recipient of the Vice Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellowship Award at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Previously, Ciara held positions and carried out consultancy work with the Centre for Human Rights (South Africa), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (USA).
Ciara holds a PhD in Law (University of Sussex, UK) and LLM in International Human Rights Law (Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway). She has expertise in qualitative research methods and analysis, and data collection in prisons.
Pia holds a BCL in Law (UCC) and LLM in International Human Rights Law (University of Essex).
She has a broad range of experience in the field of human rights, having worked in the Human Rights Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs, managing the state’s international human rights reporting obligations and representing Ireland at the UN Human Rights Council.
She has also held a number of legal and policy roles within the NGO sector and the public service. This includes, Amnesty International, where she led the development of the organisation’s policy position on socio-economic rights; the Irish Council for Civil Liberties where she managed the organisation’s campaign on the UN Universal Periodic Review; Léargas where she worked on the implementation of European funding programmes in the youth sector in Ireland; and most recently, HIV Ireland where she held the role of Policy and Development Manager.
In these roles she gained particular experience in domestic legal and policy processes concerning key human rights issues, including the Convention on the Constitution and resulting referendums. She has extensive expertise in leading coalitions of human rights organisations and building strategic relationships between civil society and state actors including in the context of UN human rights review and monitoring mechanisms, bringing domestic human rights issues to an international stage.
Mark joined the team in January 2021. Prior to this Mark worked as an investigator at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission – GSOC. He has also worked for the Revenue Commissioners in areas such as: Customs Intelligence and Profiling unit & the Customs Maritime unit. Mark holds qualifications in areas such as tax, public relations, investigations and most recently in 2020 completed an Advanced Diploma in Corporate, White Collar & Regulatory Crime at the Honourable Society of Kings Inns.
Sarah joined the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in April 2023. Sarah holds a B.A. in psychology (Trinity College Dublin), an M.A. in cognitive science (University College Dublin), a Pg.Dip. in statistics (Trinity College Dublin), and has worked extensively in social science research.
She recently completed her PhD at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin. Her doctoral research examined the experiences of prison staff and prison management of human rights based mechanisms of oversight, including inspection and complaints.
Prior to joining the OIP, Sarah served on the Visiting Committee for Cloverhill prison and worked in the Economic and Social Research Institute where she conducted research in the areas of social inclusion and migration.
Laura joined the inspectorate in November 2023. Laura was previously a Probation Officer in the United Kingdom for 17 years, working in both London and in South Wales.
Laura has worked extensively with adults, young people and children with a wide range of offending behaviour and needs. She also has specialist experience in substance misuse rehabilitation, prolific and priority offending, youth justice and Court-based practice. Laura has worked in both community and custodial settings including prisons, mental health facilities, police and Court cells and children’s secure accommodation.
Laura holds a Diploma in Probation Studies (Home Office/Skills for Justice, UK), a BSocSc (Hons) in Social Science (UCD), a BA (Hons) in Community Justice (University of Wales, Newport) and an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Cardiff University).
Michelle joined the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in April 2021. Prior to this, Michelle was Policy and Research Manager with the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT). In this role, she led IPRT’s annual human rights flagship project, Progress in the Penal System (PIPS): A Framework for Penal Reform, and managed a variety of other research projects. Michelle also authored IPRT’s (2012) report, “Picking up the Pieces”: The Rights and Needs of Children and Families affected by Imprisonment.
Previously, Michelle was Research, Policy and Fundraising Assistant in EPIC (Empowering People in Care), working with young people in State Care.
Michelle worked as an Independent Consultant for the Probation Service. She published, Drug and Alcohol Misuse among adult offenders on probation supervision: Findings from the drug and alcohol survey 2011 in the Irish Probation Journal. She was also a field worker for University College Dublin and the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (2014), Study on the prevalence of drug use, including intravenous drug use, and blood borne viruses among the Irish prisoner population.
Michelle holds an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (University College Dublin), MA in Criminology (Dublin Institute of Technology), and Bachelor of Social Science (NUI Maynooth).
Thomas joined the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in May 2023. Prior to this he was employed as a Resettlement Coordinator with the Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities (IASIO) based in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise providing resettlement support to prisoners being released from prison custody. Thomas also worked for five years with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in its field mission in North Macedonia where he served in various roles in the Police Development Unit, including the Chief of the Unit.
Thomas Retired from An Garda Siochana in 2014 after serving for over 30 years in a variety of mainly operational roles. Most recently being actively involved in Community Policing but also as a Public Order Instructor and trained Family Liaison Officer.
Thomas holds a Diploma in Legal Studies from the Institute of Commercial Management (UK). He also holds a Batchelor of Social Science (NUI Maynoth), MA in Sociology Understanding Social Change (NUI Maynooth), and an MA in Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice (Maynooth University).
Matthew joined the Officer of Inspector of Prisons in June of 2023. Matthew is currently in his final year as a candidate for Barrister at law with the Honourable Society of Kings Inns. He completed a Diploma in Legal Studies with Kings Inns in 2021, when he passed the barrister at law entrance exams.
Prior to joining the OIP Matthew spent 24 years with the Airport Police in Dublin Airport. His last 8 years spent specifically as Training Officer and then Training Manager for the Airport Police. During his time as Training manager he reinstituted an Officer Protection Training Programme for control and restraint/self-defence and handcuffing techniques in line with International best practice, the European Convention on Human Rights and Constitutional Rights.
He is certified as a National Inspector with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and in his time in Police Management he has overseen Policy development, SOP review and risk assessment in Airport Police practices and security culture development/practices for Dublin Airport. Matthew is a qualified instructor in a multiple of disciplines including Cardiac First Responder and EASA competencies. He is a qualified aviation security instructor with the Irish Aviation Authority, and trained in Hostile Reconnaissance and Counter Terrorism with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (UK).