Thirty-one staff members suffer assaults at troubled Oberstown
Published 30/07/2015 | 02:30
Thirty one staff members working in the Oberstown facility for young offenders in Dublin received serious injuries following violent incidents over the past four months.
The worrying rise in attacks on staff comes as gardaí continue to search for three escapees who broke out of the facility.
Staff are hugely concerned about the rise in assaults following the transfer of older offenders from St Patrick's detention centre, which has resulted in workers been forced to take stress-related sick leave.
The warnings are contained in a briefing document compiled by the Oireachtas Health Committee and sent to Children's Minister James Reilly.
Members of the Health Committee recently met with Oberstown staff.
Following the meeting committee chairman, Jerry Buttimer, wrote to Mr Reilly outlining staff concerns.
Workers warned that the facility was not prepared for the introduction of older offenders who are "physically bigger, older and exhibit more challenging behaviour".
Staff said this has "changed the dynamic" between staff and the younger offenders.
They warned that most staff do not have sufficient training.
In the letter, seen by the Irish Independent, the Health Committee said it was concerned that there was no "sanctions or consequences" for offenders who threaten or assault staff.
The committee also noted that there was no system in place to separate the older offenders from the younger boys.
Fianna Fail TD and Health Committee member, Robert Troy, said he was extremely concerned about the rise in attacks and called on Mr Reilly to take action.
"There appears to be insufficient staff numbers and the staff there don't have the necessary training. Minister Reilly needs to intervene now to ensure the necessary supports are put in place," Mr Troy said.
"People with complex needs should be segregated from the teenagers who do not have same needs and are not in for the same level of crime."