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Dublin: 15°C Sunday 24 October 2021

Oberstown social care staff instructed by unions not to carry out teaching duties during Covid crisis

The instruction came into effect on Wednesday.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

SOCIAL CARE WORKERS at Oberstown youth detention centre in Dublin have been instructed by their union not to carry out any teaching duties due to changes brought in at the centre since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Teachers are still giving classes to the detainees but this is currently being done via video link to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

As a result, residential care workers (RCWs) have been asked to take over classroom management as well as supervision duties. 

Correspondence sent to RCWs from the union Fórsa says that the workers there are also being asked to prepare for the lessons by downloading materials and “other such duties”.

The union issued the following instruction to its members: 

“In the absence of appropriate teaching and learning personnel, Fórsa Irish Youth Justice Branch Members are instructed not to cooperate with arrangements for facilitating the education of young people within the classroom setting on the Oberstown campus.”

The staff have been told they should continue to carry out all other instructions from management if it falls under their usual day-to-day duties. 

The instruction came into effect on Wednesday. 

In 2017, staff at the facility voted for industrial action after what the Impact trade union described as “regular violent incidents” involving staff members and detainees. The industrial action was later deferred by the union after successful talks around staff safety. 

However, violent incidents are still common at the facility, which is based in Lusk, north county Dublin. 

Earlier this week, TheJournal.ie reported how staff were threatened with boiling water after four detainees broke into the kitchen area of the facility and began destroying it. 

The garda public order unit attended the scene and, after four hours of negotiation, the scene was declared safe. 

Nobody was injured during this incident, gardaí said. 

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