Detention of children at St Patrick’s is a legacy of shame- Sinn Féin

17 October, 2012 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD


Responding to the alarming revelation on Morning Ireland by the Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan that she was “patronised and made fun of” when she reported on conditions at St Patrick's Institution last year, Sinn Féin
Spokesperson on Justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on Minister Alan Shatter to explain the response of his department officials, in the light of a new report by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

Ms Logan said senior officials at the Department of Justice had an attitude of indifference towards the young offenders and had no respect for them because they had broken the law.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“The detention of children at St Patrick’s Institution is a legacy of shame. In 1985, the Whitaker Report assessed the institution as totally inappropriate for holding children in custody.

Over 20 years later, in 2006, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) expressed their concerns about the continuing use of St Patrick’s Institution, which the Committee considered to be “unsafe” for the children and staff alike.

Deputy MacLochlainn continued: “Yet repeatedly these calls fell on deaf ears in the Department of Justice and at the cabinet table”.

“In early 2011, the Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan published a report outlining the serious concerns of her office at the on-going detention of children at St Patrick’s and calling on the incoming Government to cease the practice as soon as possible and to ensure that satisfactory interim measures are in place while the construction of the new national child detention facility at Oberstown near Lusk in Co Dublin is advancing towards the first phase completion target of 2014.

“Her call was backed by an alliance of children’s right organisations and activists including Barnardos, Eddie Darcy, Catholic Youth Care, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Association for Young People in Care, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Catherine Ghent, solicitor, Dr Ursula Kilkelly, UCC, Fr Peter McVerry, Peter McVerry Trust and the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

“Eighteen months on and still hundreds of children every year continue to be imprisoned in a completely inappropriate adult orientated environment. Minister Shatter needs immediately to relocate all children to appropriate child detention facilities.
He also needs to issue a response to the alarming revelations today by the Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan on Morning Ireland that she was ‘patronised and made fun of’ when she reported on conditions at St Patrick's Institution last year.”
ENDS

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