Speaking on RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland' this morning, a number of contributors reiterated the importance of ending the practice of detaining children in adult prisons.
Deirdre Malone, Executive Director of IPRT, pointed out how adult prisons are completely unsuitable for the particular needs of young offenders, a sentiment that was echoed by the new Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, who stated that rehabilitation must be a paramount consideration in the detention of young people.
The report recalled the statements of Frances Fitzgerald, in her former capacity as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, whereby it was pledged that no under 18s would be detained in St. Patrick's Institution in 2014. This has come to fruition, due to delays in legislation and the completion of the new children's detention facility at Oberstown.
Pat Bergin, Campus Manager at Oberstown, stated that by March 30th 2015 capacity at Oberstown will be increased by 8 beds and that this will allow all 17 year olds to be remanded to Oberstown rather than St. Pat's. There will also be further increases in June 2015. This is a positive step, as both the Ombudsman for Children and IPRT agree that Oberstown is the most appropriate environment for the small number of young people for whom detention is necessary and option to remand under 18 year olds in adult prisons needs to be removed as a matter of urgency.
The current Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly gave a very welcome undertaking to ensure that the detention of all under 18 year olds, on remand or otherwise, to St. Patrick's Institution would end by the the Dáil rises for the summer.
- Morning Ireland: Further criticism of delays in progress of Oberstown