4th January 2012
Plans to build the new detention centre for teenage boys at Oberstown, Lusk, Co Dublin have been shelved due to a lack of funding, according to Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter. The first phase of the new National Children Detention Facility would have brought to an end the ongoing imprisonment of boys at St Patrick's Institution, which has been widely criticised as unsuitable for 16 and 17 year old boys.
Responding to Dáil questions in December, Minister Shatter stated that it was "not unfortunately possible to include the Oberstown project in the recent list of projects covered by the Government capital investment framework". This is despite a clear commitment in the Programme for Government to stop sending teenagers to prison.
Ireland has been criticised by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT), the Council of Europe Committee against Torture (CPT) and the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, among others, for the ongoing practice of detaining 16 and 17 year-old boys in the prison-like conditions of St Patrick's Institution.
Liam Herrick of the Irish Penal Reform Trust told Today FM News that the Ministers for Children and Justice must look at alternatives now that the funding for Oberstown is no longer in place:
"It has been a government commitment for a number of years to close down St Patrick's Institution for 16/17-year-old boys, and here again is another failure to meet that commitment. We are now calling on the Government to put in place interim measures so that even if the institutions can't be replaced in the short term, at least boys can be more suitably accommodated elsewhere."