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lack of space means youths escape jail terms

Young violent criminals are still walking free from court for serious crimes because there is no space for them in Dublin detention centres.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald last month vowed to find space for young offenders after a Children's Court judge took the unprecedented step of calling her officials to the court to explain the lack of custodial places.

But violent young criminals are still being released because there are no detention spaces.

Last Monday, a teenage boy who admitted punching and kicking a man during an unprovoked gang attack in Dublin city centre avoided being locked up because there was no room for him.

On Wednesday, Judge Mary Ellen Ring at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court described it as "mockery of the court" when she was faced with the same problem in the case of youth accused of robbery.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald was not available for comment.