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Written Answers. - Juvenile Offenders.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 30. Mr. S. Ryan Information on Seán Ryan Zoom on Seán Ryan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  if it is intended to proceed with the establishment of a 20 person unit for 14 to 16 year olds at St. Patrick's Institution in Dublin; if he has received advice from the Prisons Board that such a move might be illegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18502/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Work is proceeding on implementing the Government's decision that the Irish Prisons Service should provide up to 20 places in St. Patrick's Institution for male children under 16 years of age, to address, strictly in the short term, any lack of capacity in special schools for young children under the age of 16 years which are run by the Department of Education and Science. Construction works on the site are ongoing. It is envisaged that the necessary building site and subsequent fit-out works, including lockings, commissioning of safety and monitoring equipment, furniture installation etc. will now be completed by end-January.

The Government has accepted from the start that this solution is not ideal, but it is considered necessary as a contingency measure to cover for any shortage in the capacity of special schools run by the Department of Education and Science, which is currently reviewing the adequacy of that capacity. To the extent that the new facility in St. Patrick's is needed, it will operate in accordance with the appropriate national and international standards for residential and custodial care and will comply with the relevant provisions of the Children Act, 2001. Under that Act, detention is to be a measure of last resort. Finally, and contrary to the Deputy's suggestion, the interim board has not submitted advice to me to the effect that the operation of the centre in St. [1146] Patrick's might contravene the Children Act or other legislation.

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