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Oberstown staff voices must not go unheard – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

30 August, 2016 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Speaking this morning after last night’s series of incidents in Oberstown House, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has called on Minister Zappone to act urgently to ensure that the worrying events of last night are not repeated.

"Firstly, I'd like to welcome the news that everyone is safe after last night’s blaze. That was my immediate thought on hearing of the incidents last night. The fire underlines the concerns expressed by the staff, and the Minister must intervene immediately. It's clear that this situation has been managed poorly, to the point that we potentially could have woken up to the death of either a staff member or a young person this morning.

"The safety of both residents and staff should be of paramount importance, and this should be reflected in both policy and resourcing.

"On the 19th of May and again on the 31st of May I called on the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs to see to it that the issue of safety concerns were dealt with in a timely manner, a manner which allowed staff to feel comfortable and secure going forward.

“Unfortunately, concerns raised by staff and others have fallen on deaf ears until now. Two months on and we are still at the same point. The Minister must hold her hands up in this instance, she has been wrong not to intervene thus far, and must work with the staff as a matter of urgency.

"The staff in this facility, as I'm sure most people appreciate, do excellent work, they are dedicated and well trained. They are in this career for a reason, and deserve to be treated with respect, much like in any other difficult profession where significant challenges day to day are the norm.

"Both the Minister, and the Board of Management appear have failed to act with enough urgency on this occasion. The workers deserve to go to work in an environment that is safe.

"That cannot continue, and it's time now for the Minister to step up, to listen to the concerns expressed by staff, and act, urgently, to ensure that the worrying events of last night are not repeated."

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