Tuesday, 27 April 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
253. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has in relation to Oberstown Girls' Centre, Lusk, County Dublin; the plans, if any, he has to expand this facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11177/99]
254. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of places which will be available in the Oberstown Boys' Centre which is being built to replace the existing three units; and if any of the new units will accommodate young people whom the courts do not sentence but deem to be out of control. [11179/99]
255. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education and Science the meaning of improved security facilities at the Trinity House reformatory school, Lusk, County Dublin; if it means that additional accommodation is being provided at school for youth offenders or out of control young people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11180/99]
264. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has to replace the existing building at Oberstown House, Lusk, County Dublin; and, if so, if he will arrange for the plans to be shown to representatives of Lusk Community Council at an early date. [10703/99]
265. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if a decision has been taken to reduce the height from 18 feet to ten feet of the proposed security fence around the perimeter of Oberstown House, Lusk, County Dublin; and, if so, the reason therefor. [10704/99]
267. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has provided for the necessary finance in 1999 to construct an 18 foot security fence at Oberstown House, Lusk, County Dublin; if so, when the work will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10706/99]
268. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has for additional security measures over and above the provision of security fencing at the Oberstown Trinity House complex in Lusk, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10707/99]
269. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has to increase the number of places in the Oberstown and Trinity House complex in Lusk, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10708/99]
A development plan for the Oberstown campus, which was based on an assessment of emerging needs and the likely impact of the Children Bill, includes proposals for the eventual development of up to 24 additional places for young male offenders and up to seven additional places for young female offenders. These proposals envisage the development of an extra, high security unit at Trinity House school to enhance the capacity of this facility to cater for the most disruptive children placed in custody by the courts; the phased replacement of the existing units at Oberstown Boys' Centre with more robust facili ties and an increase in the capacity of that centre to cater for up to an additional 16 young male offenders; the development of seven additional places for young female offenders at Oberstown Girls' Centre.
The priority focus at this stage, based on a detailed assessment of emerging demand and the likely impact of the Children Bill, is on the development of the high security unit at Trinity House and the phased replacement of existing units which comprise Oberstown Boys' Centre.
The Deputies will appreciate that the very significant costs involved in such developments requires care in ensuring only such development as is actually warranted should be undertaken. In this regard, the impact of the principle set down in the Children Bill, that custodial sentences should only be applied as a matter of last resort, will be a relevant consideration in determining the ultimate level of development undertaken.
A final decision has not been taken regarding the height of the fence in question. Issues relating to the most appropriate height, location and nature of the fence are currently being reviewed by my Department in the light of recent expert advice and research into the effectiveness of such measures. The objective of the review is to ensure that any actions taken in this area will achieve the desired objective of enhancing security at the facilities and reassuring residents of the area, without resorting to unsightly and excessively intrusive security measures. In addition to the erection of a perimeter security fence, arrangements are being made for the introduction of security lighting and access control at the entrance to the campus.
Funding amounting to £4.033 million is available in the current year to facilitate the erection of the security fence at Oberstown and to meet the cost of developments taking place at the Finglas Children's Centre. The actual cost of the security fence at Oberstown will be known when the tendering process has been completed.
The Deputies will appreciate the need for a degree of confidentiality in relation to measures which are of a security nature and are designed to contain young offenders who have been placed in custody by the courts. However, within this limitation it is intended that local residents will be kept fully informed of developments. Lusk Community Council is already represented on the board of management of the facilities at Oberstown and as such is kept fully informed on an ongoing basis in relation to developments at the Oberstown campus.
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