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Issues affecting young people in detention finally being addressed - McLellan

18 June, 2015

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children, Sandra McLellan TD, has spoken in favour of the Children (Amendment) Bill, 2015 being discussed in the Dáil today which will ensure that children under 18 would no longer be detained in adult prisons.

Deputy McLellan said;

“I welcome this bill which aims to ensure that children of eighteen years and under will no longer be detained in the adult prison system. Adult prisons are completely unsuitable for the particular needs of young offenders.

“It's been proven that in areas where supports do exist for minors who are exposed to violence or trouble in their communities, the effects of having those in place significantly reduces the number of children progressing to getting into trouble with the law. We must start discussing the issue of early intervention and prevention.

“If we were to focus energy and resources on preventative measures and on providing support for our young people within our communities, the need for reactive measures would not be so great. The thinking and attitude must change around how we treat young people.   

“While progressing the legislative process, we must keep at the forefront of our minds that these citizens we are talking about are under the age of 18. And that rather than treat them as criminals, we need to be treating them like valued beings who have potential to better themselves and reintegrate themselves into their communities if given the a fair opportunity to change.

“Sinn Féin wants this legislation to move through the Houses of the Oireachtas and to be passed into law as soon as possible. But we must get it right. We must create a system which is humane and progressive - a rehabilitation process which encourages all children to reach their full potential rather than a system which negatively impacts our future generations for life."

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