A young rapist has been staying in a HSE accommodation in Limerick which cares for vulnerable girls aged 12 to 18, it has emerged.
The 18-year-old has completed a sentence in St Patrick’s Institution for rape.
Over the past month, the registered sex offender has been staying at a special residential child care unit run by the HSE.
The care accommodation, a mixed male and female facility, mostly looks after young girls who are at risk.
The HSE last night said the accommodation operates as a “safe and appropriate environment” for teenagers and young adults
Ingrid Wallace, senior counsellor at Rape Crisis Midwest, said: “The current situation whereby a registered sex offender is being housed in a Limerick hostel highlights the need for better post-release supervision and support for offenders, particularly young offenders. This situation raises questions as to supervision arrangements within the hostel, which caters primarily for vulnerable girls who are away from their families.
Ms Wallace asked if “this arrangement is the best and most appropriate way to deal with this young adult’s post-release needs. Is there a better way to support his release back into the community and perhaps at this time this was the best option available to the HSE”.
In its statement, the HSE said the child care centre operates as a mixed-sex centre and supports male and female teenagers and young adults in a safe and appropriate environment.
The statement added: “The HSE wishes to reiterate that it has and does take all proper steps in conducting appropriate risk assessments in all of its decision-making pertaining to the operation of children’s residential centres, which are under the direct regulatory control of Hiqa.”
TD Niall Collins said one would expect that a registered sex offender would be kept in separate accommodation. “I feel that the families of girls in this unit should be reassured that there is no risk to any of their children so that fears which naturally will arise due to the publicity surrounding this matter can be allayed.
“As this sex offender is over the age of 18 and free to go where he wishes, it must be assumed that there is a major health issue regarding him which has led to HSE to take steps for his own safety.
“One has to question is this care accommodation the most appropriate place for him But assurances need to be given that this care accommodation poses no risk. It is an area which needs to be re-assessed.
“The current situation again highlights the lack of back-up support for people who leave prisons and places of detention and who can be a risk to themselves or others due to the lack of rehabilitation while serving sentences.
“All too often people leave a prison in worse shape mentally and physically due to being introduced to drugs in prison, than when they were sent there from the courts. It costs a lot of taxpayers’ money to keep a person locked up, but the level of re-offending proves we are getting very bad value for all that money.”
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