Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children and Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central, Jerry Buttimer, has said the turning of the sod at Oberstown national children’s detention facility is further evidence of reform and this Government’s commitment to supporting children’s rights.
“The turning of the sod at the national children’s detention facility at Oberstown is further evidence of reform in the area of children’s rights. Delivering real reform is a priority for this Government and it has paid significant attention the area of children’s rights. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, has led these efforts and her willingness to invest €56 million in this project underlines her determination to recognise and give effect to the rights of children.
“Children under the age of 18 who have been through the court process must be treated differently to adult prisoners. We must recognise their age and offer them every chance to turn away from criminal behaviour. When the first three of the six detention units are available for use it will be an important step towards ensuring that an appropriate model of detention is available to all children under 18 years.
“For decades the scandal of detaining children in adult prisons has been spoken about but no action was taken to end this unacceptable practice. It is not appropriate for 16 and 17 year olds to be detained in the same environment as seasoned criminals, as this only increases the likelihood of reoffending. The effect of this was a well-worn path from St Patrick’s Institution to Mountjoy and other prisons.
“The failures of previous governments to give effect to children’s rights are truly astounding. At times when money was available they chose to ignore international criticism of how we treated our children. They ignored criticism by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the European Committee on Social Rights among others.
“Minister Fitzgerald has grasped this issue and taken steps to ensure that child detention facilities in Ireland will meet international standards. While others only talk of reform this Government is delivering real reform, bringing about meaningful change that will ensure we respect the rights of all children.”