Wednesday 28 September 2016

Two buildings 'destroyed' amid fire and rioting at youth centre with ERU deployed

Published 30/08/2016 | 11:36

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

TWO buildings at a youth detention facility are believed to have been destroyed in fires caused by youths who broke out onto the roof during a staff strike.

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Investigations are ongoing today at Oberstown Centre after eleven units of Dublin Fire Brigade using water cannon fought the flames through the night to bring the blaze under control.

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

Residents near Lusk in north Dublin reported seeing smoke and flames ‘billowing’ from the troubled centre which houses up to 40 of the State’s most dangerous young criminals.

Staff sources said a ‘riot’ broke out in the centre late yesterday afternoon following trouble over the weekend in which substantial damage was done to a wing of the centre. It was visited last week by broadcaster Pat Kenny as part of a tour by the Centre’s director Mr Pat Bergin.

One member of staff was reported to have been seriously injured yesterday and taken to hospital after being attacked by inmates before they broke out onto the roof. No further details of the injuries were available.

Staff - after complaining about attacks, injuries and fear for their lives – took part in planned industrial action yesterday from 8am to 4pm. It followed similar action in May when staff took place in a four hour stoppage. Further action is planned for three dates next month. Attempts to resolve the issue through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have been unsuccessful.

Some staff broke from the picket line to assist their colleagues after the youths had forced their way from their accommodation to the roof.

The Garda Emergency Response Unit was also sent to the Oberstown Centre at 9pm and the air support unit was deployed overhead.

Mr Bergin this morning said  garda units were still on site but added calm had been restored to the facility.

“Gardai are processing it as a crime scene,” he said.

Mr Bergin said eight young offenders had climbed up onto a roof but staff “had eyes on them at all times” and that at no stage was the safety of offenders or staff at risk.

Mr Bergin said the youths came down from the roof voluntarily.

Dublin Fire Brigade fought the flames from 7.30pm yesterday until around 3.30am this morning.

“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,”  said one resident who could see the fire from his back garden.

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, All five were quickly arrested but local people said it was lucky they were caught so quickly.

The damage to the facility was being inspected this morning but it is believed that two buildings which formed part of the older section of the centre were destroyed.

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