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Oberstown incidents require appropriate and urgent address – Ó Caoláin

20 August, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Management at Oberstown Detention Centre in north Co. Dublin and on the Minister for Children James Reilly to “face up to the fact that staffing levels, and training and supports for staff at Oberstown, are not at an acceptable and safe level”.  The Cavan/Monaghan Deputy has urged the Minister to take immediate action before a tragedy occurs.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“I was one of a number of TD and Senators who, as members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, visited the Oberstown Detention Centre on Tuesday 23rd June.  The visit was useful and informative, to a point.  We were not afforded an opportunity to meet directly with care staff whose concerns and experiences were essential to an understanding of the workings of the Centre and of the high instances of assaults on staff and of the stresses and strains of working there.  Staff members met us on our departure and advised they had not been accommodated in the course of our scheduled visit.

“Committee members, myself included, subsequently met members of the staff at Oberstown in an informal session where they brought us through the reality of their daily work life and of the difficulties and the dangers involved, dangers that had increased significantly with the transfer of the under 18s from St. Patrick’s and with further transfers pending from Wheatfield.  Our Committee members decided to bring the information shared to the attention of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and copied our letter to both Patrick Bergin, the Oberstown Campus Manager and to the Chairperson of the Board of Management at Oberstown, Prof Ursula Kilkelly.

“I am greatly concerned that having brought this information to the attention of the Minister, and of the other responsible parties, we have seen a further series of distressing events take place at Oberstown, including a multiple escape and a number of serious attacks, including last night’s vicious assault that left one detainee and three members of staff with injuries, all subsequently, I believe, brought to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

“Minister Reilly must face up to the fact that staffing levels, and training and supports for staff at Oberstown, are not at an acceptable and safe level.  I am demanding that Minister Reilly act immediately and not await a tragedy before he takes the required steps to ensure the safety of both those detained in Oberstown and of those who work there.” 

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