Thursday 29 September 2016

Centre for troubled youths goes up in flames

Allison Bray and Ryan Nugent

Published 30/08/2016 | 02:30

The blaze lights up the night sky at Oberstown in north Co Dublin. Picture; Caroline Quinn
The blaze lights up the night sky at Oberstown in north Co Dublin. Picture; Caroline Quinn

Dublin Fire Brigade early this morning brought a massive blaze at the National Youth Detention Centre in Oberstown under control following hours of rioting by inmates that had left part of the roof in flames.

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Six units of the fire brigade, one water unit and an environmental unit with water cannons were deployed at the site in Lusk, north county Dublin after local residents reported seeing smoke and flames billowing from the youth correction facility last night.

A fire engine arrives at the gates of the Oberstown facility in north Co Dublin last night. Picture; Caroline Quinn
A fire engine arrives at the gates of the Oberstown facility in north Co Dublin last night. Picture; Caroline Quinn

It's understood that a staff member was also rushed to hospital after he was reportedly attacked by an inmate.

A garda spokesman would not confirm whether members of the Emergency Response Unit were deployed around 9pm after youths reportedly "seized control" of the facility following a riot earlier in the day.

The trouble at the facility began when up to eight youths staged a protest on the roof after an eight-hour work stoppage by staff. Four youths who remained on the roof last night came down around 11pm and the blaze was largely under control by midnight.

Read more: ERU deployed as Oberstown youth detention centre set on fire after hours of rioting by inmates

Two garda vans arrive after the incident at Oberstown began yesterday afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Two garda vans arrive after the incident at Oberstown began yesterday afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

It's understood that three public order vans arrived at the site around 10pm last night. However, a spokesman said that no members of the public, including staff or neighbouring residents, were in any danger during the incident.

The incident occurred as staff held a strike to protest ongoing concerns over their own personal safety following a spate of attacks and injuries.

The walk-out meant that inmates were required to remain in their rooms until 4pm when the strike was over. Management at the facility said a skeleton staff was on duty from 8am until 4pm.

One resident who could see the fire from his back garden said: "We heard sirens and more sirens and thought it might have been a crash on the (M1) motorway. Then we saw smoke billowing out of the place. Then you could see flames."

Inmates climbed on to the roof at Oberstown earlier in the day. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Inmates climbed on to the roof at Oberstown earlier in the day. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The witness added there had been consternation in the area after the previous break-out attempt earlier this month in which teenage inmates armed with golf clubs and a ladder they stole from a storeroom attacked staff and then scaled the 30ft perimeter wall.

Staff working at the facility have spoken of the dangers they face from inmates whom they cannot use force to restrain or control despite threats to themselves. The escalating problems have prompted the trade unions Siptu and Impact to call for three more days of industrial action next month.

Irish Independent

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