6 April 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has announced the closure of St. Patrick’s Institution with effect from tomorrow, 7th April 2017.
Speaking on the closure the Tánaiste said: “From 31st March 2017 all 17 year olds are now committed by the Courts to the Children’s Detention Centre at Oberstown, rather than to St. Patrick’s Institution.
“As a consequence, I am now making Orders under the Prisons Act, 2015 closing down the last remaining wing of St. Patrick’s Institution and subsuming it into Mountjoy Prison, with effect from 7 April, 2017. From that date, St. Patrick’s Institution will no longer have a legal existence.
“I should point out that 17 year olds currently detained in Wheatfield will not transfer to Oberstown but will stay in Wheatfield until they finish their sentences or transfer into the adult system. The completion of this process will take approximately 9 months. This approach follows the same successful phased transition of responsibility for males aged 16 years to the Children Detention Schools in 2012 and for males aged 17 years who were remanded in custody since March 2015.”
“Ending the practise of sending children to St. Patrick’s Institution was a long standing Government commitment and one in which I and Minister Zappone were personally invested. I am delighted to confirm the closure of St. Patrick’s Institution from midnight on 6 April, 2017 and its effective removal from the Statute Book. St Patrick’s Institution has been the subject of much criticism by various bodies and persons involved in the area of human rights and children’s rights. The signing of these orders will now consign the name of St Patrick's to the history books and is a significant and progressive step forward in the treatment of children.”
Note for Editors
The Tánaiste today signed three legal instruments under the Prisons Act, 2015. The effect of these three Orders is to close down St. Patrick’s Institution and subsume the only remaining wing of the St. Patrick’s building – ‘B’ wing - into Mountjoy Prison, all with effect from 7 April 2017.
The three Orders are as follows:
(a) to commence the relevant sections of the Prisons Act, 2015. Part 3 of the 2015 Prisons Act makes amendments to various pieces of legislation consequential on Closing of Saint Patrick's Institution which effectively removes St. Patrick’s Institution from the Statute Book.
(b) to close down St. Patrick’s Institution and deal with unexecuted warrants for those committed to that institution.
(c) to subsume ‘B’ wing of St. Patrick’s into Mountjoy Prison.
The signing of these orders follows the making of orders by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Minister Katherine Zappone, T.D., which allows for the committal of newly sentenced 17 year olds directly to Oberstown with effect from 31 March, 2017. The overall effect of these legal instruments by both Ministers is that (i) from 31 March, 2017 no further new committals of children could be made by the Courts to the adult prison system and (ii) on 7 April, 2017, St. Patrick’s Institution will fully close down, be subsumed into Mountjoy Prison, and will no longer have a legal existence of its own.
Ending the practice of sending children to St. Patrick’s Institution is a long standing Government commitment and was a key commitment in the programme for Government 2011-2016. Significant progress was made in fulfilling that commitment and the signing of these orders is the final step.
1. Responsibility for 16-year-old boys was transferred from the Irish Prison Service to the children detention facilities at Oberstown in May 2012.
2. Responsibility was transferred to Oberstown from the prison system for all 17-year-old male remands in March 2015.
3. In relation to 17-year-old boys, and as an interim measure, since December 2013 all such boys sentenced to detention in St. Patrick’s have been transferred to dedicated units in Wheatfield Place of Detention.
The then Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence announced his intention on 3 July, 2013 to close down St. Patrick’s Institution. The Institution has four wings – A, B, C and D.
· ‘D’ Wing closed in 2013 and was subsumed into Mountjoy Prison.
· ‘A’ and ‘C’ wings were closed in 2014 and were similarly subsumed into Mountjoy.
· St. Patrick’s Institution currently consists solely of ‘B’ Wing and that will close on 7 April, 2017 and be subsumed into Mountjoy Prison.
In practice, up to 31 March all 17 year olds committed to St. Patrick’s Institution were transferred shortly thereafter to a special unit in Wheatfield Place of Detention. The eight 17 year olds boys currently in Wheatfield will not transfer to Oberstown but will be remain in the adult prison system until they complete their sentence or ‘age out’ – this process is expected to take approximately nine months. This phased approach is being adopted based on the previous successful experience in respect of the transition for males aged 16 years to the Children Detention Schools in 2012 and for males aged 17 years who were remanded in custody since March 2015. This will ensure a sustainable and measured transition of responsibility.