I want to reiterate my support for the Bill. The amalgamation of the three detention schools on the Oberstown site into 1 legal entity is essential to the success of our children detention system.
I look forward to the publication of the Prisons Bill, which will facilitate the complete closure of St Pats.
Ending the detention of children in the adult prison system in Ireland is a hugely significant improvement, albeit long overdue, in the promotion and protection of children’s rights in Ireland.
However, the change of policy whereby 16 and 17 year olds are being remanded and committed to the new facility will not be without its challenges.
In fact they are pre-empted in numerous places in the St. Pat’s Visiting Committee Report for 2014.
The reality is that the new 16 and particularly 17 year old cohort are physically bigger, present with more challenging behaviour, are detained on more serious charges (indeed Minister I think it would be very useful if we tracking any trends and changes in the profile of offences children are being remanded and committed to detention for), and I understand are changing the dynamic between staff and the younger children in the units, whereby they cannot be seen to be complying/buying in with the programme.
We need a risk assessment and specific and ongoing training for staff to deal with these new challenges.