Oberstown youth detention centre talks geared to end dispute

Four-hour work stoppage to highlight daily risk of violent assault to staff and residents

Talks between management and unions at Oberstown youth detention centre will go ahead on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve an industrial dispute over safety issues.

Trade unions Impact and Siptu said the four-hour work stoppage on Tuesday was to highlight the daily risk of violent assault to staff and residents. About 150 of the 200 care workers and other staff stopped work and picketed at the gates of the centre from 8am to noon.

The unions said emergency cover was in place during the industrial action and there would be no disruption of State exams at the facility.

They said more than 100 violent incidents occurred at Oberstown last year, almost half of which were classed as “critical”. Critical assaults and injuries resulted in more than 3,000 employee sick days, which involved 65 staff.


Young offenders

The campus, which officially amalgamates the three schools of Oberstown Boys’ School,

Trinity House School

and Oberstown Girls’ School on Wednesday, caters for 48 teenagers under 18 in what the unions describe as a mix of “vulnerable young offenders and violent criminals with multiple convictions for serious offences”.

Pat Bergin, director of Oberstown Children Detention Campus, said 15 of the 48 residents, all boys, were 17 and the majority about 14 . Mr Bergin said during the work stoppage the teenagers could not attend school and were locked into their bedrooms.

He said staff were directed by the unions not to open the bedroom doors and, as a consequence, breakfast could not be served.

Mr Bergin said the young people normally went to the kitchen for breakfast from 9am to 9.30am, and then on to school or activities.

After discussions with unions, Mr Bergin said the teenagers were given breakfast at about 10.30am.

Mr Bergin disputed the claim that assaults at the centre had increased and said there had been a reduction this year.