05 April 2012

Minister Fitzgerald to End Detention of 16 and 17 Year Olds in St. Patrick’s Institution

Local TD and Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, has announced that capital funding of approximately €50 million has been secured to end the detention of 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick’s Institution. The €50 million of capital funding over three years will fund six new detention units and associated education and training facilities and was a key commitment in the Fine Gael/Labour Programme for Government.

Speaking at the announcement, the Minister heralded the new facilities at Oberstown as a significant moment for Irish society stating; “Accommodating children in adult prison facilities is contrary to international standards in children’s rights and is something I am determined to end. This is a key investment in addressing the serious problems of Ireland’s most troubled teens. This development will allow us to place these young people in a secure environment that will offer them a second chance to be productive people who contribute to society.”

The detention of children in St. Patrick’s Institution, which is an adult prison, has been criticised for over 25 years by domestic and international observers as being inappropriate for the rehabilitation of children and addressing their complex needs.

“The detention of children in St. Patrick’s Institution has been criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the European Committee on Social. It was clear that as a State and as a society, we needed to change this practice and help support these vulnerable teenagers” said Fitzgerald.

Commencing on 1st May 2012 all newly remanded or sentenced 16 year olds will be detained in the children’s detention facilities at Oberstown. Within two years, all those under 18 who need to be detained will be sent to dedicated child-specific facilities on the Oberstown campus.

"This facility will provide an opportunity for a new and innovative response to the needs of Ireland’s most troubled teens. For many of them youth offending is often simply the result of other underlying risk factors. Some of these young people will end-up in the care system, some in the youth justice system but up to now too many have simply fallen through the gaps in-between. The path from St. Patrick’s Institution to Mountjoy Prison has been too well worn over the years. We must interrupt the predictable path of violence and crime and repeat offending progressing to further serious offending and committals in adult prisons,” concluded Fitzgerald.