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Irish Times: End jailing of boys at St Patrick's, say campaigners

1st December 2009

Writing in The Irish Times, Carl O'Brien reports on IPRT's calls for an end to the practice of locking up teenagers in prison for up to 23 hours a day for their own protection.

A total of 161 young people aged 16 and 17 were detained in St Patrick’s Institution in 2008. Around 25% of these teenagers were placed on protection because they feared for their own safety.

O'Brien quotes Dr Ursula Kilkelly, chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, as saying that the continued detention of boys at St Patrick’s was inappropriate and not in compliance with international human rights standards:

"International rights monitoring bodies have consistently recommended the removal of children from St Patrick’s Institution... It is an inappropriate environment for children. We are told they will be transferred to a new national child detention facility but we do not know for certain when this will occur.”

Dr Kilkelly was speaking on the launch of a new report of the Irish Penal Reform Trust’s on the Detention of Children in Ireland, which sets out international standards and best practice for the use of custodial measures for children in Ireland and internationally.

The report outlines more than 60 recommendations across a number of areas aimed at reforming the sector. They include:

  • Bringing an immediate end to the detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution
  • Extending the remit of the Ombudsman for Children to receive individual complaints from children held in St Patrick’s Institution
  • Improving child protection procedures and practices in all places where children are detained.

The article also reports that as far back as 1985, the Whitaker report recommended that St Patrick’s be closed down immediately because it was “outdated, lacking in educational and recreational facilities and an environment that would contribute to the delinquency of the juvenile”.

Read The Irish Times article in full here.