asked the Minister for Education if he will state when it is proposed to close the place of detention in Summerhill, and what alternative provisions he intends to make for juvenile delinquents on remand, and for juveniles awaiting conveyance to industrial schools after committal.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Detention of Juveniles.
I stated in my reply to a question on this subject, asked by the Deputy on 29th April, that owing to the very limited use now made of the place of detention for boys in Dublin, it was doubtful if the expense of providing more elaborate accommodation for this purpose would be justified. There has been no change in the position since then: the accommodation afforded by the building at Summerhill is sufficient for present requirements.
Arising out of the Minister's reply, Sir, is he not of opinion that it would be worth any expenditure to provide accommodation in which children, who have been remanded to Summerhill—some of them for criminal offences, and some of them merely on remand for inquiry— should be properly segregated, educated and looked after? Does he think it right to economise at the expense of the moral character, training and general livelihood of these children?
There is no question of economising at the expense of the moral character or training of these children. I think the Deputy himself will realise that, when I tell him that, from the 19th of March up to the latest date for which I have figures available, the largest number of children detained at Summerhill was two: that at certain periods none was detained, and that the average number detained there was one. I do not think, Sir, that I could contemplate the position of an entirely new building for this purpose when the numbers being sent to Summerhill are so small.
Is the Minister aware that, some time ago, there was incarcerated there a boy of 15 years of age, who had been convicted of a serious offence, and that in his company there were small children, whose ages ranged down to two years of age, and who were being detained there before being sent to industrial schools, and who had to wait there until such time as they could be sent to an industrial school? Surely, the Minister will admit that no expense can be regarded as too much which could provide against such things as that happening?
I suggest, Sir, that there are surely other ways of dealing with such a situation as that.
With your permission, Sir, I should like to ask the Minister: Is it not true that I have brought this matter to his attention and to the attention of his Department time and time again, both in a private and in a semi-private way, and that I have not raised it in the House before making exhaustive inquiries in his Department and in every other way that I could?