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Oberstown safety concerns need to be addressed – Ó Laoghaire

16 May, 2016 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that the issue of safety concerns for both staff and residents of the Oberstown facility must be dealt with as a matter of priority

Deputy Ó Laoghaire’s comments come after staff at the Oberstown child detention facility voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action due to concerns regarding both the safety of staff and residents alike.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“No one takes the decision to strike lightly. It is evident that the staff feels very strongly about the current situation in Oberstown and their concerns should be listened. I call on the Minister for Children to see to it that the issue of safety concerns for both staff and residents of the Oberstown facility are dealt with as a matter of priority.

“The staff in these centres are very committed, and dedicated to assisting young people in need of high support, who are in such facilities as Oberstown. The decision to strike clearly raises question as to whether or not the unit in question is adequately resourced to achieve the results it aspires to. The safety of both residents and staff should be of paramount importance, and this should be reflected in both policy and resourcing.

“Less than three years ago, HIQA issued a damning report which led to the closure of the Rath Na nÓg facility in Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan. It was a similar facility that housed young people who were in need of high support but not necessarily convicted of serious offences. The report, among other things, outlined staff and resident safety as one of its concerns.

“It is a cause for concern that such facilities were in anyway neglected in terms of resources, or in terms of standards of practice. The highest standards should be applied in the interests of staff and of residents. This is not the first time staff has expressed concerns, and I feel there needs to be far more by the way of oversight of Oberstown and the reasons why safety continues to come into question; all of which is deeply concerning. The Minister, should engage with the staff and their representatives as a matter of urgency, and must act accordingly to address this issue and review its codes of practice and structures to ensure the safety and welfare of residents and staff.” 

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