Two Irish panels at the BSC would have been unheard of even just a couple of years ago. In 2009, however, there were enough Irish participants to have not only two Irish sessions, but also a smattering of other papers about Ireland across the 3 days of the conference.
I flew the flag (or the shamrock, as those who were there may recall!) in a session on imprisonment. Coretta Phillips (http://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/profile.aspx?KeyValuefirstname.lastname@example.org) and Rod Liddle of the Open University presented a wonderful, reflective account of the way in which researcher identity can impact upon qualitative research. It was fascinating to see the importance of reflection in this field, having used reflective writing within my teaching practice.
My paper was an overview of the main themes which I feel have characterised Irish prison policy in the years 1922 – 1972, i.e. subversion, stagnation and social change. I also feel there are interesting comparisons to be drawn between the way in which penal-welfarist philosophies and policies developed (or didn’t develop) in Ireland when compared to England and Wales. The impact of a Civil War on a prison system is another potential area for comparative analysis. One thing that is difficult to understand is how so many Irish politicians (and Ministers for Justice) spent time in prison during the early 1900s, yet so few made any great changes to the penal system while in office. This does not seem to be the experience in, for example, Finland.
Feel free to contact me for the powerpoint presentation.
Besides attending some interesting sessions on public criminology, work with prisoners and the role of higher education institutions on training police officers, I also enjoyed the city of Cardiff. A very moving and powerful Diane Arbus exhibition is currently running in the National Museum, while the Thai House http://www.thaihouse.biz/ lived up to its very impressive reputation.