Thursday 2 April 2015

Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, today published the General Scheme of the Prisons Bill which was approved by Government this week.

The main purpose of the Prisons Bill is to facilitate the complete closing of St Patrick’s Institution. The Bill will repeal statutory provisions that enable the courts to order the detention of young offenders in St Patrick’s Institution and will also delete references to St Patrick’s from the statute book.

Minister Fitzgerald said: “I am pleased to announce that the Government has approved the drafting of legislation to facilitate the complete closing of St Patrick’s Institution. I have long been concerned about the suitability of St Patrick’s Institution for the detention of young offenders.

“In co-operation with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, it is my intention that the practice of detaining children in adult prison facilities is completely ended and that St Patrick’s Institution will finally be consigned to history at the earliest possible date.”

Last week, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly made orders which allow 17 year old males who are newly remanded in custody by the courts to be committed to Oberstown with effect from 30 March.

Minister Reilly stated: “I fully support the initiative of Minister Frances Fitzgerald‎ in publishing a draft General Scheme for the full closure of St Patrick's Institution. This will complement the progress that has already been made‎ by Government in this area. This represents important progress towards ending the practice of placing children in adult prison. I will shortly be seeking Government approval to publish a Bill to amend the Children Act 2001, which will allow for the full transfer of responsibility for children in detention to the children detention schools."

The Programme for Government 2011-2016 included a commitment to end the practice of sending children to St Patrick’s Institution. Significant progress has been made by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in fulfilling that commitment.

· Construction on the Oberstown development project started in 2013. The project will increase the number of children detention places available on the campus to enable the full transfer of responsibility for 17 year old males to the children detention schools.

· Responsibility for 16 year old boys remanded in custody or sentenced to detention was transferred from the Irish Prison Service to the children detention schools at Oberstown in May 2012.

· All sentenced 17 year old males have been transferred to a dedicated unit in Wheatfield Place of Detention as an interim measure until they can be accommodated in the new children detention facilities being developed at Oberstown. 18-20 year old males sentenced to detention have been transferred to a separate dedicated unit in Wheatfield.

The General Scheme of the Prisons Bill is available at http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB15000102

ENDS.../

Note for Editors:

St Patrick’s Institution was originally established in Clonmel early in the last century as a Borstal Institution for young male offenders. It was transferred to its present site adjacent to Mountjoy Prison in 1956. The Criminal Justice Act 1960, which gave St Patrick’s Institution its statutory title, made provision for the sentencing of offenders aged 16 to 20 years to detention in that Institution.

Following reports by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, which raised serious issues and major concerns relating to St Patrick’s Institution, the Government decided in 2013 to completely close St Patrick’s Institution.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly will shortly seek Government approval to publish the Children (Amendment) Bill. The Bill will amend the Children Act 2001 to allow the children detention schools to assume responsibility for all children remanded in custody or sentenced to detention.