Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal Darragh O’Brien TD says the new Government must move to address the serious health and safety concerns surrounding the youth detention centre at Oberstown, backing his colleague Fianna Fáil Children Spokesperson Robert Troy TD on the subject.
Deputy O’Brien made the comments after residential care workers and night supervising staff at the centre voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action due to safety concerns. The Oberstown centre is in Lusk, in Deputy O’Brien’s constituency.
“I am alarmed to see industrial action being undertaken by staff at Oberstown, but unfortunately this news will come as no shock to those that are familiar with the facility. Many of the staff in Oberstown live in my constituency and have regularly raised their concerns with the health and safety issues at the centre for months now. They feel that their concerns are being ignored by senior management,” said Deputy O’Brien.
“A new health and safety inspection has shown that the buildings in the complex are unsafe, and that the facility is not serving staff or residents adequately. Over 100 violent incidents took place at the centre last year and the staff have pointed out that the substandard nature of the accommodation creates the environment for these assaults to take place.
“The issue stems from the fact that a change in legislation took place under the last Government which resulted in residents aged from 16 to 18 being housed at the centre. Prior to this only those aged 16 and under were being accommodated at the facility. There should have been an overhaul of the health and safety practices at the centre when this change took place, but unfortunately this did not happen.
“The fact that 16 to 18 year olds were being housed at the centre should not have been a concern in itself; but young people of this particular age group have different needs to younger children that should have been addressed when this change to legislation was made. This Fingal centre needs to be adequately resourced and proper improvements need to be made to bring practises at the facility up to standard.
“I repeat the calls that the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone should take on board the concerns being raised by staff at the facility. Management need to act on the recommendations made following health and safety inspections and deliver new safety practices, procedures and equipment as recommended. We cannot have a situation where there is a below standard youth detention centre in north county Dublin. It’s in everybody’s interest to resolve this dispute and Fianna Fáil will not be found wanting in this regard,” said Deputy O’Brien.