Govt 'must examine alternatives' for detention of minors

Pressure is mounting on the Government to stop detaining teenage boys in adult prison facilities at Saint Patrick's Institution.

It comes after a recent announcement that plans for a dedicated youth facility at Oberstown were shelved due to cuts in capital spending.

The decision has been met with fierce opposition from the Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan, and now the Irish Penal Reform trust is adding its voice to the concerns.

The group insists there's an onus on the Government to protect all children in state care - including those in the criminal justice system.

Liam Herrick of the Irish Penal Reform Trust says the Ministers for Children and Justice must look at alternatives now that the funding for Oberstown is no longer in place.

"It has been a government commitment for a number of years to close down St Patrick's Institution for 16/17-year-old boys, and here again is another failure to meet that commitment," Mr Herrick said.

""We are now calling on the Government to put in place interim measures so that even if the institutions can't be replaced in the short term, at least boys can be more suitably accommodated elsewhere."

The Children's Rights Alliance meanwhile said that if the Government was able to find funding for the children’s hospital, "then it can also find funding for the development of a National Children's Detention facility"

"“Not only is the practice of detaining children in an adult prison regime in direct contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Ireland in 1992, but it makes no sense economically," the Alliance said in a statement.

"St Pat’s is dubbed the ‘Crime School’, with many children going on to reoffend well into adulthood.

"Investment in these children now will pay dividends in the long-term."

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