Irish Penal Reform Trust

Round Up: Oberstown Review

19th September 2016

Following a number of serious incidents at Oberstown Children Detention Campus, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD has today (19th Sept 2016) announced that a review of operations at Oberstown will be conducted by two external experts. Professor Barry Goldson, an expert in youth justice at the University of Liverpool, and Professor Nicholas Hardwick, the former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales and current Chair of the Parole Board, will visit Oberstown in the coming weeks.

The announcement of the review follows a serious incident on campus on August 29th. During the stoppage, eight children gained access to the roof of a building. Since the incident, a number of children claim they have been held in solitary confinement, resulting in High Court action.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone said she hopes the review of operations at Oberstown will resolve many of the problems at the child detention campus, and help the facility reach its education and care-focused vision. Additionally, she said it was vital that the review did not delay the transfer of ten children from Wheatfield, an adult prison, to the Oberstown Campus. She also condemned the practice of a 19-hour confinement of children during industrial action as 'not acceptable in any way'. IPRT hopes that the review will be conducted swiftly.

Minister Zappone stated that the recent incidents at Oberstown 'highlighted the  need to reflect on the progress achieved and to identify and address any obstacles to the necessary future reforms', and hoped that the findings would 'ensure the safety of all at Oberstown and at the same time end Ireland's abysmal record of placing children in adult prisons'. Chair of the Oberstown Board of Management, Prof. Ursula Kilkelly stated that the review marked 'an opportunity, not just to set the future course for Oberstown, but to significantly change youth justice in Ireland forever'.

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