Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy TD has called on the Minister for Children James Reilly to address the significant problems in risk management, training and staff morale identified by the latest HIQA inspection of Oberstown Youth Detention Centre.
Deputy Troy previously raised concerns he had about resourcing at the facility after a number of staff members were assaulted while working.
Deputy Troy commented, “The latest HIQA inspection report indicates that improvements have been made in some areas of concern that were identified in meetings I had with staff over the summer. Progress has been made in areas such as staffing and the use of single separation, however serious problems do remain outstanding at the facility.
“The report finds that there is still huge mistrust of management by staff at the facility. Staff members appear to be overburdened and simply do not have time to build personal relationships based on trust with children in their care.
“Morale at the facility is still very low according to the report. It is clear that many of the staff remain distressed after the terrible stabbing incident which took place in August, which could have been potentially fatal. Staff members feel not enough progress has been made in the area of risk management and feel their health, safety and well-being is being ignored.
“Last summer I urged the Minister to intervene to ensure employees at the facility receive more training to deal with the violent behaviour of some of the older inmates recently transferred from St. Patrick’s facility in Mountjoy Prison. Given the severity of the incidents that have taken place at the facility since the transfer of young people form St. Patricks, the Minister’s complete inaction is hard to understand.
“There have been numerous cases of absconding by children at the facility. Even more worrying is the number of violent attacks between March and July, in which 9 female and 22 males employees suffered serious injuries including concussion, nerve damage, throat injury, stabbings and bites.
“It is imperative that the Minister acts on the recommendations of this report, engage with staff concerns and facilitate management reforms at the facility,” concluded Deputy Troy.