St. Patrick's instituted to close, new facility for young offenders

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs will spend approximately €50million over the next 3 years, which will help to end the detention of 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick's Institution. This is one of the commitments made by Fine Gael and Labour in their programme for government.

St. Patrick's Institution is an adult prison, which has detained children in their late teens for the last 25 years. International and national studies have shown such institutions do not help with the rehabilitation of children and their complex needs.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “Accommodating children in adult prison facilities is contrary to international standards in children’s rights and is something I am determined to end and I, working closely with my colleague Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, am very pleased to have secured capital funding to ensure this will be done in the next two years. This is a key investment in addressing the serious problems of Ireland’s most troubled teens. 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."

The UN has also criticised the practice of holding children in St. Patrick's Institution, as have the EU and its Social Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg.

From the 1st of May, 2012 all newly remanded or sentenced teenagers will be place in detention facilities at Oberstown. This will mean that all those under 18 who need to be detained will be sent to a dedicated child-specific facility.

The measures being announced today include:

  • Approval of approximately €50 million over three years in capital funding to undertake the National Children Detention Facility Project at Oberstown. This will include six new detention units and associated education and training facilities.
  • The delivery within two years of sufficient new facilities at Oberstown to accommodate all children that are subject to detention by the courts, ending the requirement for anyone under 18 years to be sent to St. Patrick’s Institution.
  • From 1st May 2012 assignment of responsibility for the detention of newly remanded or sentenced 16 year old boys to the Children Detention Schools in Oberstown. This will mean that it will no longer be necessary for 16 year olds to be sent to St. Patrick’s Institution by the courts from this date onwards.
  • Enhanced provision of specialist therapeutic services for children in residential institutions, in both the children detention schools and special care units operated by the Health Service Executive. A specialist multi disciplinary service is being established for this purpose with the recruitment of a director for this service already underway.
  • The introduction of amendments to the Children’s Act 2001 to provide for the management of all facilities on the Oberstown campus (i.e. Oberstown Boy’s School, Trinity House School and Oberstown Girl’s School) on an integrated basis.