90% of employers are willing to hire former prisoners, but they say more guidance is needed

Almost nine out of ten Irish employers who took part in research commissioned by Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) would consider hiring someone with a criminal history. The Maynooth University study is the first time research on employer attitudes to people with convictions has been published in Ireland. The research included a symposium, 23 interviews and a survey of 55 participants.

What emerged was that employers want more guidance, as Galway Rural Development community worker Damien Quinn stressed on the day of the report’s launch.

Damien was one of the guest speakers when ‘The Secondary Punishment’ was unveiled. As he previously told Changing Ireland readers, he found it very difficult to find work after being released from prison. When he did finally land on his two feet, he set up a campaign and support group for former prisoners called Spéire Nua.

The research echoes his concerns, but there was hope in the respondents’ replies with employers broadly willing to hire people with convictions (PWCs) once they had guidance, information, and support in order to do so.

The report recommends that the Government bring in legislative reform to promote inclusivity and anti-discrimination for PWCs.

IPRT executive director, Saoirse Brady, said at the launch: “The Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 should be enacted as a matter of priority given that it has cross-party support and would deliver on a key Programme for Government commitment to expand the range of convictions that can be considered ‘spent’.”

Download the report from:

Read our interview with Damien:

“I say it all the time – prison was the easy part”

Click here for Changing Ireland’s feature on employment opportunities for former prisoners.