Jacqueline Gallagher

The experiences of individuals growing up in Ireland who were separated from a parent during their childhood owing to parental incarceration

Supervisor: Dr. John Pender

Funding Body: N/A


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines that every child has rights, including the right not to be discriminated against based on the status or activities of their parents and the right to have their best interests be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them (Children’s Rights Alliance 2012; European Convention on Human Rights 2010). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights posits that parents and children who do not have their basic human rights protected are more likely to suffer negatively (Alejos 2005). This suggests that children who have a parent in prison are more likely to have these rights violated on a daily basis.

To date there are no accurate figures available on the amount of children in Ireland who are affected by parental imprisonment, however the European Network for Children of Imprisoned Parents, suggests that the number of children separated from an imprisoned father in Ireland is approximately 4,300, while an estimated 142 children are separated from an imprisoned mother (Martyn, 2012).

Children of prisoners are often referred to as the invisible victims of crime (Martyn 2012; Marshall 2008; Glover 2009). Several studies have been carried out on these invisible victims in the United Kingdom (Shaw 1992; Glover 2009; Poehlmann 2005) and in other countries (Alejos 2005; Cunningham and Baker 2004; Gabel and Johnston 1995). These studies illustrate that children whose parent has spent time in prison suffer psychological, behavioural, social and emotional problems.

The purpose of this research therefore is to examine the impact parental imprisonment has on children living in Ireland. It will provide a platform for individuals affected by parental imprisonment to share their personal and will also examine the policy and supports available to children growing up in Ireland who are separated from a parent owing to parental incarceration.


2019/20 Fulltime Prospectus IT Sligo