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Thursday 23 March 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Julien Behal/PA Wire Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Justice Minister Alan Shatter
# Oberstown
After five-year delay, work finally begins on new youth detention centre in Dublin
The new facilities at Oberstown will house all offenders aged under 18.

FIVE YEARS AFTER it was originally approved, work has started today on a new detention centre for Ireland’s young offenders.

The new National Children Detention Facility at Oberstown in Dublin will house all offenders – both male and female – aged under 18. The existing centre at the Oberstown campus in Lusk already caters for some teenage offenders but the new facilities will significantly increase the capacity.

The centre became increasingly necessary after Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced earlier this year that juveniles could no longer be imprisoned in St Patrick’s Institution which had been repeatedly criticised by human rights groups.

A contract worth €56.4 million has been awarded to construction firm BAM Building to construct the new facilities. The first three residential units are due to be available in the third quarter of 2014, when 17-year-old boys who were moved from St Patrick’s Institution earlier this year will be moved to Oberstown.

The remaining 3 residential units will open in 2015.

Speaking at the launch of the project today, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said a series of changes would be brought in to the centre, including a new integrated clinical theme for children, a single Campus Manager, and an amendment to the Children Act of 2001 to amalgamate the 3 existing detention schools into a single legal entity.

Minister Fitzgerald said that detaining teenagers should be seen as the final resort rather than a regular option for young offenders.

“I will continue to work with Minister Shatter on promoting the use of non custodial sanctions for children wherever possible,” she said.

The government had announced at the end of 2011 that the National Children’s Detention Facility would be delayed indefinitely, leading to some concerns that the new centre would never be built.

“There have been numerous attempts over the years to progress this project but this Government has, at a time of major constraint for the public finances, committed the resources needed to resolve this issue once and for all,” said the Minister.

The move was welcomed by groups representing children. Children’s Rights Alliance boss Tanya Ward said that ending the detention of children in St Patrick’s was a “major step forward for vulnerable children”.

Read: Juvenile offenders were sent to their rooms for up to 2 hours a day >

Read: Government criticised for shelving plans for new youth detention centre >

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