Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Detention Centres Provision
83. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views regarding the current transition of residents at St. Patrick's Institution to the Oberstown campus; if she will provide a timescale for the transition; and the status of discussions with staff at the campus regarding resources, staffing and restoring at the new campus. [53846/13]
The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government commitment in this area refers to the ending of the practice of detaining children in St Patrick's Institution. This will be achieved in two major steps. The first one has already been achieved in that I signed the required Ministerial orders during 2012 under the Children Act 2001 which ended the practice of detaining 16 year old boys in St Patrick's Institution. The second step will be the ending of the practice of detaining 17 year old boys in the adult prison system. This will be achieved by the completion of the National Children Detention Facility project in Oberstown. A main contractor and a number of sub-contractors have now been appointed to this project and construction of the new facilities started on site on 23 September 2013. On 14 October 2013 I officially launched the construction project with the event taking place on the campus in Oberstown.
The timeline for the project will see the first three new residential units available in the third quarter of 2014, which will be used to facilitate the transfer of responsibility for 17 year old boys from the adult prison system to the Oberstown campus.
In additional to the capital project, my Department and I are overseeing a further programme of reforms aimed at enhancing the effective management and capacity of services on the Oberstown campus in advance of, and to support, the expanded facilities to be provided. A recruitment process has recently resulted in the appointment, with effect from 2 December 2013, of Mr Pat Bergin as Campus Manager for the Oberstown site, who will report to the Board of Management. I see this appointment as a crucial element of the reform of the children detention service.
In addition, early next year I will be presenting a set of amendments of the Children Act 2001 to the Oireachtas which will provide a mechanism for the merging of the three existing Children Detention Schools into a single legal entity. These governance reforms will complement the on-going work over recent years to develop integrated care policies and shared services across the Oberstown campus.
I wish to further advise that a care staff recruitment programme has been sanctioned by Government and will shortly be commenced in conjunction with the Public Appointments Service, with the aim of deploying the new staff in Oberstown for orientation and training on a staged basis from early 2014.
In order to ensure a safe and stable transition to the new children detention school campus during 2014, a comprehensive business planning process has commenced for the delivery of services for all children under 18 in Oberstown.
In line with an agreement made at the Labour Relations Commission earlier this year, agreement was reached with staff representatives on the appointment of a third party arbitrator who is currently overseeing a joint staff / management review of the operation of the campus staffing roster in Oberstown which was implemented in February 2013. This review is ongoing and it is my intention that the review will be completed as soon as possible.
Significant change and development is underway on the Oberstown Campus and arrangements for ongoing staff engagement and support is an important element of this change programme which is being overseen by the Board of management and the recently appointed Campus Manager.