Actions at offenders' institute 'barbaric'

Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 01:00

THE GOVERNMENT should correct claims made to the UN that complaints about the treatment of young people at St Patrick’s Institution for Young Offenders were “the fanciful whims of children and should not be listened to”.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said it was “vital for the reputation of our country and the respect of human rights that the record is corrected”.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn told him “all necessary steps required to deal with this issue will be taken” and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter would “ensure Ireland is fully compliant with its international obligations”.

The Donegal South West TD was referring to a hearing in Geneva by the UN Human Rights Commission on Ireland’s human rights record. Mr Pringle said the former general secretary of the Department of Justice dismissed the complaints of ill-treatment and said they should not be listened to.

He was commenting in the wake of a report on the institution by inspector of prisons Judge Michael Reilly.

The Minister also acknowledged Mr Pringle’s concerns about the way the concerns of the Ombudsman for Children about the prison fell on deaf ears for two years. Mr Quinn said the treatment of the ombudsman “reflects badly” on the department and the prison service.

Mr Pringle said he had read with disgust the findings of Judge Reilly’s report “of children being stripped with knives, bullied by staff members, and being forcibly moved to isolation cells using head and arm lock control”.

He said the “barbaric behaviour” in the institution “would remind us of the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq”.

Mr Pringle said the 2014 target for ending the detention of those under 18 in the prison “must be brought forward”.

Mr Quinn described what had happened as “an outrageous scandal, and reflection on all elected persons in this House and elsewhere”.