16th December 2015
"Today marks a historic day for penal reform in Ireland" - Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD
Today IPRT marks the completion of all stages of the Prisons Bill 2015 in the Oireachtas, and warmly acknowledges the engagement and commitment of all stakeholders who have made this possible.
These include: Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD, who as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2012 secured the funding to build the new children detention facilities in Oberstown; Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly TD; the many champions among TDs and Senators, in particular Senator Jillian van Turnhout; along with the IYJS and the staff and board of Oberstown.
A key campaigning issue for IPRT since its establishment in 1994, others critical advocates have included the Ombudsman for Children, the Children's Rights Alliance, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, to name but a few.
In 2011, IPRT welcomed the clear commitment in the Programme for Government to ending the practice of detaining children in St Patrick's Institution, a Dickensian prison unfit for the detention of adults let alone the 16- and 17-year-olds who were then held in that institution. This key Programme for Government commitment will now be met.
Since July 2012, 16-year-olds have been remanded to the children detention facilities in Oberstown; since March 2015, 17-year-olds can be remanded to Oberstown, although a small number have continued to be detained in St Patrick's. (One 17-year-old is being held there today.)
The passage of this legislation today forms a critical final step towards closing St Patrick's Institution - 30 years after the Whitaker Report first recommended the complete closure of the prison, and following decades of inaction by successive governments. It is truly a historic day.
"I look forward to the full transfer of responsibility for children in detention to Oberstown, and to St Patrick’s Institution being finally consigned to history, early in 2016.”
- Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD