Minister insists Oberstown is fit for purpose after fire breaks out on roof

One staff member was injured as young residents took control of a residential unit

Minister insists Oberstown is fit for purpose after fire breaks out on roof

Image: Dublin Fire Brigade/Twitter

An investigation has been launched into disturbances at the Oberstown youth detention centre that led to a fire breaking out and a staff member being injured.

Six units of the Dublin Fire Brigade worked overnight to tackle the rooftop blaze, which began at around 7:50pm.

The public order unit and ambulances also attended the scene in north Dublin.

It came after a group of young residents managed to take control of a residential unit and gain access to the roof during a staff protest yesterday afternoon.

It is not clear, however, whether they were responsible for causing the fire. 

The residents had been confined to their rooms as staff members engaged in a work stoppage over safety concerns.

One worker was injured while responding to the situation but is not thought to have assaulted.

Minister Zappone told reporters this morning that she has requested a report on the incidents from Pat Bergin, the campus director.

She said the facility affords young people "a lot of respect and people" and remains "fit for purpose".

"I know it’s been a very challenging and disturbing 24 hours, especially for so many of us who have campaigned to ensure young people in the criminal justice system receive security and the proper treatment they deserve ...

"I do understand the staff have safety concerns. I’ll leave that to management staff and unions to resolve that," she added.

Minister Zappone also extended her sympathies to the injured staff member.

There were over 100 violent incidents in Oberstown last year, almost half of which were classed as critical, according to figures from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Critical assaults and injuries necessitated a total of 3,005 employee sick days, involving 65 staff members.

Responsibility for the centre – which comprises Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House School – was transferred from the department in 2012.

The campus in Lusk currently caters for 48 under-18s, including a mix of vulnerable young offenders and people with multiple convictions for serious offences.

Further work stoppages are due to take place on September 5th, 12th and 19th.