Care workers at youth detention centre begin strike action

Unions say staff at Oberstown campus at daily risk of violent assault

Care workers and other staff at the Oberstown youth detention centre in north Dublin will begin strike action on Tuesday morning over what they say are poor safety measures and an increasing number of assaults on the campus.

Trade unions Impact and Siptu said full emergency cover was in place, and that there would be no disruption of State exams at the facility.

The campus caters for 48 teenagers under 18, including what the unions described as a mix of “vulnerable young offenders and violent criminals with multiple convictions for serious offences”. It is the only youth detention centre in the State which facilitates the transfer of offenders from the prison service.

The unions say more than 100 violent incidents occurred at Oberstown last year, almost half of which were classed as “critical”.


Critical assaults and injuries necessitated a total of 3,005 employee sick days, involving 65 staff members.

The industrial action will see residents confined to their rooms between 8am and midday.

Further four-hour stoppages are planned for each Tuesday in June.

Unions and management have been invited to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission on Wednesday.

Impact official Tom Hoare said a series of policy decisions had left Oberstown care workers "doing the work of prison staff with the facilities and equipment of a residential care home".

“ The campus is badly designed, with inadequate safety equipment to deal with a mix of vulnerable young people and violent offenders. The result is a daily risk of serious assault, which leaves many of the staff literally in fear of their lives as they leave for work each day.”

The unions claim the expansion and refurbishment of the complex was badly planned and implemented.

Siptu official Ray Stanley said the unions had raised safety concerns on a daily basis in recent years.

“While there has been a management response, it has been wholly inadequate and totally ineffective.”

The staff concerned work at three schools on the campus: Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House.

Responsibility for the campus was transferred from the Department of Justice to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2012.