Councillor Collins Brings Battle for Cork Youth Detention Centre to Europe

By Seamus Whelehan

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Councillor Noel Collins has voiced his anger over the Government’s refusal to develop a Youth Detention Centre in Cork.

He said “the insipid response by Minister Zappone to a humanitarian problem is not worth the paper it’s written on.”

The Independent Councillor is to refer the issue to the European Commission for Human Rights.

The Midleton based Cllr has made a number of pleas to Government, all which have been rejected, to locate a Detention Centre in Cork.

Mr Collins has claimed that since the closure of Spike Island, the country’s custodial system for young offenders has been under severe strain.

Youngsters who should be in the care of specialist educators are being placed on continuous remand by the Courts. On the one hand the safety and security of the general public is being put in jeopardy. On the other, the correctional treatment which the young offenders need is being long fingered, he claimed.

At present there are only 200 Youth Detention places spread across the country’s 4 detention centres, catering for 15 to 17 year olds.

The Independent Cllr said families of young offenders were experiencing hardship having to make a 300 mile round trip to visit their sons and daughters.

“For the record” he said “Minister Zappone has her Rolls-Royce outside the door, so travel is not a problem for her.”

“The Oberstown building in Lusk, Co. Dublin is grossly overcrowded, resulting in some violent attacks on staff members, who have repeatedly called for riot gear to deal with violent, volatile teenage inmates” said the Independent Cllr.

The latest response by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs states that the Oberstown Campus is “the most economic and efficient option for care and education” of young offenders.

“At present there are no plans to develop a Children Detention School in other areas” they said.

Mr Collins told a full Sitting of Cork County Council on Monday 8 July that “thousands of Euro in the State’s coffers, spent on travelling expenses, could be better spent in the provision of a Youth Detention Centre in Cork where many suitable buildings are available. “

The former social worker said since Dáil Éireann have repeatedly given his Motion the “deaf ear treatment” he wanted the case referred to the European Department of Human Rights for adjudication.

The Councillor received the full backing of his colleagues.

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