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16 boys currently being held in adult prisons

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly T.D will launch the report

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly T.D will launch the report

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly T.D will launch the report

SIXTEEN children are being detained in adult prisons in the capital, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) confirmed that on January 7, three boys were "held in remand" in St Patrick's Institution and 13 boys were "held under sentence" in Wheatfield Place of Detention.

All are aged just 17.

Although the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly is "committed" to getting children out of adult facilities, newly developed units to detain the late-teenage offenders at the National Children Detention Facility at Oberstown, Lusk, in North Dublin, are not ready yet.

In response to a recent parliamentary question, Minister Reilly said: "Ending the practice will be met when the extension of the Oberstown campus results in the transfer of responsibility for 17-year-old boys."

The revamped complex, costing an estimated €50m, has been under construction since September 2013, and will deliver six new residential units. The opening of the first three "will be achieved as early as possible in the New Year".

Meanwhile, the IYJS also confirmed that a total of 38 boys - and no girls - are being detained in the three children detention schools all located on the Oberstown campus. These are Trinity House School and Oberstown Boys School, both providing detention places for boys up to 17 years old, and Oberstown Girls School for girls up to the age of 18.

In 2014, a total of 168 boys and eight girls were remanded or committed to the schools. That's down slightly on the 179 boys and 12 girls held in 2013.

The average age on arrival was 16 years and "no child can be sentenced for a longer period than an adult for the same offence". Under Irish law, the age of criminal responsibility is 12 years and a "child" is defined as a person under 18.

However, detention is only imposed as "a last resort" as authorities seek to reintegrate the child through diversion programmes and other community sanctions.

Sunday Independent