Sunday 8 December 2019

Teen escapes youth detention facility and climbs onto the roof

The Oberstown campus near Lusk
The Oberstown campus near Lusk

Robin Schilelr

There has been another escape at the country’s only youth detention centre, where staff are involved in industrial action.

A teenager absconded from Unit 9 of the Oberstown campus in Lusk, north Dublin, before climbing onto the roof of a building. He was later recaptured.

The incident, which occurred on Wednesday night, is the most recent in a series of escapes at the detention centre.

Fianna Fail spokeswoman for Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte said that the response to Oberstown staff’s security concerns were “slapdash and inadequate”.

“The minister’s response to the work stoppage this week by staff has been slapdash and inadequate.

“It’s astonishing that the minister has stated there is no basis for industrial action.

“This is despite the fact that the dedicated and hard-working staff have genuine fears for their safety, and those of the children in their care,” the Galway TD said.

“(Wednesday) was a typical case in point, wherein a detainee escaped and the facility was put on lockdown.

“Last summer, similar major security concerns arose following the escape of three young detainees. Little has been done since to rectify this growing problem,” Ms Rabbitte added.

A spokesperson for children’s minister Katherine Zappone said the department do “not comment on operational issues at the Oberstown Campus”.

Last July, security at the facility (inset) was put under scrutiny when four young offenders escaped from the campus.

One of the teens was subsequently involved in a vicious attack on the Luas tramline in Dublin, and another taunted gardai with a series of social media posts while on the run. All of the youths were eventually returned to the campus at different periods.

Oberstown staff members claim that 3,000 sick days were taken last year as a result of 65 attacks on them. Minister Zappone has said that “staff are fully supported where incidents have to be investigated by the Garda authorities”.

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