Thursday 24 May 2018

Oberstown staff facing hostage, rape and death threats after riot

A riot broke out at the Oberstown centre on Monday
A riot broke out at the Oberstown centre on Monday
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Staff at the troubled Oberstown youth detention facility are working under threat of being held hostage and killed by detainees who have also threatened to rape female staff, the Irish Independent can reveal.

It has emerged that a staff member who was assaulted by a detainee when a riot broke out on Monday will now require plastic surgery after his glasses were ground into his face when an inmate forcefully opened a door on him.

The inmate overpowered him and took his keys to free other inmates locked into their rooms during an eight-hour walkout by staff to protest concerns over their safety.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the atmosphere was now even more tense than on Monday when the walkout culminated in a riot and fire in the building that partially destroyed the roof and caused an estimated €2m in damage.

The Garda Emergency Response Unit had to be called in to quell the riot.

"The situation has escalated since then," the source said. "The mood here is, to say the least, very sombre. It's tense, negative and nervous."


However, nothing has been done to protect staff from further violence other than locking the four main instigators of the riot in their rooms, the source claimed.

The centre's director, Pat Bergin, declined to comment on the matter last night.

Meanwhile, the ongoing issue of staff safety will be the focus of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Monday after the trade union Impact, representing staff at the centre, agreed to meet management after deferring another day of protest that had been planned for this Monday.

"The dispute is entirely about safety," said the union's spokesman Niall Shanahan.

Staff have been subjected to more than a hundred "serious incidents" since the facility was expanded following the closure of St Patrick's youth wing at Mountjoy Prison, he said.

"Every aspect of the operation has to be risk-assessed."

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone visited the centre yesterday to survey the damage and "seek firm assurances that the daily routine of young people will not be impacted into the future".

Irish Independent

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