IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Construction at Oberstown a ‘momentous’ step towards ending imprisonment of children in Ireland

14th October 2013

MEDIA ADVISORY

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has hailed as ‘momentous’ the announcement today (Monday, 14th October, 2013) by Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, that the construction of new national children detention facilities at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin has begun, and that the practice of detaining children in adult prisons in Ireland will end within one year.

IPRT has campaigned for the end of imprisonment of children in Ireland since the organisation was founded in 1994, and has played a central role in maintaining pressure on Government to address this serious stain on Ireland’s human rights record.

Commenting today, Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said:

“After more than 25 years of inaction by successive governments, today we are witnessing concrete action on commitments to end the imprisonment of children in Ireland. Given the current pressures on fiscal resources, IPRT believes that the construction of new facilities at Oberstown is a significant statement of the Government’s commitment to the rights of children, including children in conflict with the law.”

“However, we should not lose sight of the serious issues which remain in St Patrick’s Institution. We need more clarity around when and how the proposed transfer of 17-year olds from St Patrick’s Institution to Wheatfield Prison will take place, including the measures that must be taken to ensure that the endemic problems in St Patrick’s Institution do not merely transfer with the young adults to Wheatfield Prison.”

“Prison is an entirely inappropriate environment for detaining children, and cannot address the complex issues, including substance misuse, mental health issues and educational disadvantage, that underlies offending behaviour by children.”

The practice of detaining 16-year old boys in St Patrick’s Institution ceased in July 2012; the exclusion of children in prison from making complaints to the Ombudsman for Children was ended in July 2012.

For media queries, contact: Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Communications Manager, Irish Penal Reform Trust: T: (01) 874 1400; M: 087 181 2990

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. Detention of Children in St Patrick’s Institution – IPRT Briefing

IPRT has outlined our serious concerns about the ongoing detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution, which is in breach of human rights standards, in a short Briefing: http://www.iprt.ie/contents/1703

2. Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice – IPRT Report

IPRT published a report on the detention of children in Ireland in Nov 2009, focusing on international standards and best practice. This report informed the framework of key areas in the consultation carried out by the Ombudsman for Children with the young people in St Patrick's Institution. See: http://www.iprt.ie/contents/1458

3. Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)

IPRT is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort: www.iprt.ie