Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Detention of Boy.

158.

asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware of the circumstances surrounding the detention for one week of a 14 year old boy in the Bridewell cells, Dublin, without exercise, resident medical or welfare care, while awaiting trial, following his admission of guilt to the charge of the theft of £321 from a milk roundsman's float; and what measures the Minister proposes to take to deal with such occurrences.

As the proceedings against the boy have not yet terminated, I am reluctant to make any comment on the circumstances which led the District Court to order that the boy be remanded to the Bridewell for successive periods of three and four days last September, in case it might be regarded as prejudicing the outcome of the proceedings.

However, I can say that I regard the Bridewell as quite unsuitable for the detention of young persons and, as I announced recently, the institutional provision to be made for young offenders is under urgent examination with a view to eliminating the difficulties sometimes experienced by the courts at present in finding suitable institutions for them.

Would the Minister agree, in strict fairness and leaving aside the charges themselves, that the physical circumstances surrounding this particular detention were dreadful?

I agree. It is a most unsuitable place to put a young person but there were very particular circumstances in the case which apparently left no option of his going anywhere else. I do not want to go into that question in fairness to the boy himself. I agree that the Bridewell is most unsuitable for a young person. We are trying to provide a more suitable premises. It is only in very unusual circumstances that a child would end up there.