The Irish Penal Reform Trust has said Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on family contact for people in Irish prisons.

The IPRT's assessment of progress in the penal system, or PIPS report for last year, notes a continued lack of recognition and support for children and families affected by imprisonment.

Despite alternative methods of contact such as in-cell phones and video calls being provided by the Irish Prison Service, the Progress in the Penal System report highlights a reduction in the number of physical visits by children to prisons last year.

In the first 11 months of 2021, there was a decrease of 80% in the number of children that visited an adult in prison compared to earlier in the pandemic.

The report says over 2,200 children physically visited an adult in prison up to November last year; compared with 11,000 visits by children in 2020.

Physical visits were suspended from December 2020 until July 2021.

When they recommenced, children were not always allowed to visit, and when they were, a maximum of one child was permitted per visit.

This meant families with more than one child had to choose between their children, which the report says "was extremely difficult".