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Oberstown facility at breaking point – Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee

Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children & Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has welcomed the announcement by the Children’s Minister that the practice of detaining young offenders in adult prisons is to no longer continue.

However, the Fingal based Senator has called on Minister Katherine Zappone to outline where these juveniles can be held, and also when she expects the review on Oberstown to be published. “The practice of detaining young people in adult prisons is simply wrong and the move away from this system is welcome. It has long been recognised that we need a new innovative and comprehensive response to the needs and rehabilitation of youth offenders.

“An adult prison setting is not an appropriate setting for a teenager, and I am pleased that Minister Zappone is introducing a Ministerial Order to end this practice. “However, I have grave concerns about the number of youth detention places available in Ireland. The Oberstown facility, which is the main youth detention centre in the State, is not fit for purpose and is currently struggling to effectively operate while over capacity.

“There have been ongoing issues at the centre for some time now and staff continue to face serious challenges including violent incidents, attacks on staff and industrial relations issues, and a dangerous lack of problems resources. It is simply not feasible to place additional youths in the unit at this point in time.

“Minister Zappone ordered a review of operations at Oberstown last September but to date there has been no interim report or update on its progress. This is highly unsatisfactory, especially for the staff employed at the facility.

“This is an issue that affects the wider community in North county Dublin, and there is deep concern among local residents about the continuing safety issues at the centre.

“I am calling on the Minister to clarify when the report is expected to be published and what efforts are being made to improve youth prison services and specifically the situation at the north County Dublin facility”.

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