Fire at Oberstown detention centre after young residents climb up on roof

Youths gained access to roof as staff staged an eight-hour work stoppage earlier today

Fire at Oberstown detention centre after young residents climb up on roof

Image: oberstown.com

A fire has broken out on the roof of the state's only youth detention centre.

The Dublin Fire Brigade was called to the Oberstown campus at around 7.50pm, a spokesperson told Newstalk.com, adding that there were no reports of injuries. 

Six fire units, a turntable ladder and three senior officers are working to tackle the blaze, whose cause has not yet been determined. 

The public order unit is also at the scene responding to disturbances caused by young residents. 

This afternoon, a group of youths climbed up onto the building's roof as staff held a protest. 

Residential care workers and supervising staff took part in an eight-hour stoppage due to concerns over poor safety measures and increasing assaults on the campus.

IMPACT earlier said full emergency cover would remain in place during the strike, which saw residents confined to their rooms.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone called on staff to go back to the negotiating table.

Staff also took part in a four-hour stoppage in May, and attempts to resolve the issue through talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have so far been unsuccessful.

The most recent official figures, supplied by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, revealed over 100 violent incidents in 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.

'Doing the work of prison staff'

The unions have served notice of more stoppages due to take place on September 5th, 12th and 19th.

While noting that emergency cover will be provided, Ms Zappone expressed regret that the young people will not be able to go about their normal activities.

She also noted the engagement in recent weeks by both management and the union in attempting to put in place a framework agreement to address a range of issues including health and safety concerns.

"I understand that an agreement was reached by both sides just last Sunday and I would have expected the protocols agreed under that process to be used," she said.

She has called on the union to cancel the industrial action and utilise the mechanisms provided to address their concerns.

IMPACT official Tom Hoare said: "While there has been consistent efforts to resolve this dispute, the staff are still facing the daily risk of assault and injury.

"Oberstown care workers are doing the work of prison staff with the facilities and equipment of a residential care home.

"The number of assaults on staff has continued to grow since the expansion of Oberstown to facilitate the transfer of offenders from the prison service."

Mr Hoare said the new 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," he said.