Fire at Oberstown after youths force way onto roof

Five units from the fire brigade had to attend Oberstown Youth Detention Centre in Dublin last night after a fire broke out.

Among them was the environment unit which contains heavy duty water cannons.

Earlier in the day, gardaí were called in to help deal with juvenile offenders who forced their way onto the roof of a detention centre during a strike by staff.

The Garda helicopter was dispatched after reports emerged that at least five, and as many as 10, residents of Oberstown Children Detention Campus in north Dublin gained access to the roof.

One member of staff was reportedly seriously injured when a resident broke down a door, hitting the staff member in the head.

Local senior gardaí liaised with management at the centre regarding their response to the security breach, and the public order unit was on standby.

It happened as staff from Impact and Siptu were carrying out an eight-hour stoppage outside the main gates of the complex in a dispute over increasing assaults and poor safety measures.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone called on the unions to cancel the industrial action and use the mechanisms provided to address their concerns.

Speaking before the security breach, Ms Zappone said she was “disappointed” vulnerable young people would be impacted by the action.

The children were locked inside their rooms during the stoppage and emergency cover was provided. Before lunchtime, some residents managed to get onto the roof.

Impact official Tom Hoare said five residents got up on the roof and more than 12 staff members who were at the picket went in to assist their colleagues providing emergency cover.

He said care workers were doing the work of prison officers but only had facilities and protection equipment of a residential care home.

“The record of assault and injury in this institution is absolutely appalling,” said Mr Hoare.

Deirdre Malone of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said the action was “directly detrimental” to the care and welfare of the children atOberstown.


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