Written answers

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Department of Health

Juvenile Offenders

9:00 pm

Photo of Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Question 192: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the imprisonment of 16 and 17 year old boys at St. Patrick's Institution will, as per commitments made, end; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4271/12]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The proposed National Children Detention Facility (NCDF) at Oberstown, North Co Dublin is a project to accommodate young people detained by the courts on criminal charges in the children detention school setting in Oberstown, North Co Dublin operated by the Irish Youth Justice Service. The Oberstown campus includes Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House School.

The Government is committed to ceasing the practice of sending 16 and 17 year old boys to St Patrick's institution. It is a priority of mine to ensure that this practice cease as soon as possible. I visited St Patrick's Institution twice in November last year, prior to assuming legal responsibility for the children detention schools from the Minister for Justice and Equality in January 2012. I received a briefing from the Governor and his staff on the efforts that are made on a daily basis to provide appropriate, safe and secure care fro 16 and 17 males.

The Government appreciates that, as far as possible, this group is accommodated and cared for differently from the other offenders held in institution, in line with best practice and child protection guidance procedures. Nevertheless, it is unacceptable that children continue to be detained with adult prisoners and the Government is committed to ending this practice.

I am pursing both interim and medium term arrangements to address this matter. Following visits to St. Patrick's Institution, I have asked the Irish Youth Justice Service to work with the Irish Prison Service and explore all possible interim options for the care of the boys currently there. I expect to have a report on the matter over the coming weeks and will examine the position in conjunction with the Minister for Justice and Equality.

I have also asked that the Irish Youth Justice Service reassess the projected cost of the Oberstown project to bring it into line with current price levels and current economic realities. This process is ongoing and the Irish Youth Justice Service has been tasked with progressing to completion during 2012 the design work and tender documentation for the NCDF project in Oberstown. Even when funding for the construction stage of the project is finalised, the work will still have to be completed. I am in ongoing consultation with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the funding of the subsequent construction stage of the project.

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