· Bill to repeal all court powers of detention at St Patrick’s Institution

· Bill to allow St Patrick’s Institution to be completely closed by Ministerial order

· Government legislation will deliver on Programme for Government commitment to end detention of children at St. Patrick’s Institution

 

3rd December 2015

 

Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, today published the Prisons Bill 2015.

 

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 offenders under the age of 21 in St Patrick’s Institution and will also delete references to St Patrick’s Institution from the statute book.

 

Minister Fitzgerald said: “I am pleased to announce the publication of the Prisons Bill 2015 which will enable St Patrick’s Institution to be completely closed.

 

“This will deliver on the key Programme for Government commitment to end the practice of sending children to St Patrick’s Institution.”


“This bill also finally delivers on the calls to close St Patrick’s Institution which goes back to 1985 and the recommendations of the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Penal System chaired by Dr. T.K. Whitaker.”

 

“The path from St. Patrick’s Institution to Mountjoy Prison has been too well worn over the years. We must interrupt the predictable path of violence and crime and repeat offending progressing to further serious offending and committals in adult prisons. This Government’s unprecedented programme of reform in closing St Patrick’s Institution and developing National Child Detention Facilities at Oberstown will allow us to place these young people in a secure environment that will offer them a second chance to be productive people who contribute to society.”

 

Very significant progress has been made by the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in fulfilling the Programme for Government commitment.

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

· The €50 million development of National Child Detention Facilities at Oberstown, Youth Affairs is almost complete. It will increase the number of children detention places available on the campus to enable the transfer of responsibility for all children remanded in custody or sentenced to detention from the Irish Prison Service to the children detention schools.

· In 2013, following reports by the Inspector of Prisons which raised serious issues and major concerns relating to St Patrick’s Institution, the Government decided to close St Patrick’s completely.

· As an interim step, arrangements were made for sentenced 17 year old males to be transferred shortly after committal to St Patrick’s Institution to a dedicated unit in Wheatfield Place of Detention. Males aged 18-20 sentenced to detention are detained in a separate unit in Wheatfield.

· Subsequently, the necessary orders were made under the Children Act 2001 to transfer responsibility for newly-remanded 17 year old males to Oberstown from 30 March 2015. However, for legal reasons, it has been necessary to retain St Patrick’s Institution on a contingency basis for remands awaiting places in Oberstown. The courts have on rare occasions remanded 16 and 17 year olds to St Patrick’s for short periods until places in Oberstown become available.

· The Children (Amendment) Act 2015, for which the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is responsible, was enacted earlier this year. When operational, this Act will enable the full transfer of responsibility for children in detention to the children detention schools.

 

The Minister concluded: “I hope that the Prisons Bill will be passed by the Dáil and Seanad quickly, so that St Patrick’s Institution will finally be consigned to history at the earliest possible date.”

 

The Prisons Bill is available at http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2015/11015/b11015s.pdf

 

ENDS.../

 

Note for Editors:

The Prisons Bill 2015 will enable St Patrick’s Institution to be completely closed. In particular:

 

· Section 3 of the Bill provides for the repeal of the remaining legislative provisions that allow the courts to commit offenders under the age of 21 to detention in St Patrick’s Institution.

· Section 6 of the Bill provides for the complete closing of St Patrick’s Institution by Ministerial order.

· Part 3 of the Bill provides for the removal of references to St Patrick’s Institution from the Statute Book.