Minister Signs Order to End Practice of Sending 16 Year Olds to St. Patrick’s Institution
May 1st 2012
Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced that the practice of sending 16 year olds to St. Patrick’s Institution would end today.
The Minister said, “I have signed the statutory instrument giving effect to this change. I am very pleased that from today, on May 1st, the dreadful practice of sending 16 year olds to St. Patrick’s Institution will end.”
Commencing today, all newly remanded or sentenced 16 year olds will be detained in the children’s detention facilities at Oberstown. The Minister said: “We will make very significant early inroads until, within two years, all those under 18 who need to be detained will be sent to dedicated child-specific facilities on the Oberstown campus. A major step towards ending this practice has now been taken when newly remanded or sentenced 16 year olds will instead go to the children’s detention facilities at Oberstown.”
Minister Fitzgerald’s comments follow her announcement earlier this month that capital funding of approximately €50 million over three years has been secured to end the detention of 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick’s Institution, as committed to in the Fine Gael/Labour Programme for Government. The detention of children in St. Patrick’s Institution, which is an adult prison, has been criticised for over 25 years by domestic and international observers as being inappropriate for the rehabilitation of children and addressing their complex needs.
"The proposed facility will also provide an opportunity for a new and innovative response to the needs of Ireland’s most troubled teens. For many of them youth offending is often simply the result of other underlying risk factors. Some of these young people will end-up in the care system, some in the youth justice system but up to now too many have simply fallen through the gaps in-between. I have asked my Department to examine further scope to achieve a shift towards a new joined-up approach to special care and youth justice services."