Senator Jillian van Turnhout warmly welcomes Minister for Children and Youth Affairs’ announcement to end the detention of 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick’s Institution in the next two years.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, announced today that capital funding in the region of €50 million over a three year period has been secured to end the detention of children under the adult prison regime in St. Patrick’s Institution in the next two years.

As of 1 May 2012 all newly remanded or sentenced 16 year olds will be detained in the children’s detention facilities in Oberstown and within two years all those under 18 in need of detention will be sent to dedicated child-specific facilities on the Oberstown campus.

In response to today’s announcement Senator van Turnhout said “I have made my concerns about the continued detention of children in the adult prison regime of St. Patrick’s Institution well known both on the Seanad floor and as a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. The current detention system for children violates a number of Ireland’s international human rights obligations and is one of the State’s most glaring violations of children’s rights. I warmly welcome today’s announcement from Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD to ensure that as of 1 May a new approach to children’s detention will be implemented. This significant progress illustrates the real value and potential of the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs. I believe it demonstrates a positive shift in the Government’s policy for children that has the best interests of the child at its heart. I reiterate my call to the Minister to extend the remit of the Ombudsman for Children to allow complaints from children held in prison and detention on the same basis as children detained elsewhere”.

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