I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 14 together.
In September 2016, the Oberstown board of management commissioned an external independent review of operations and best practice at the campus. The review was undertaken by two international experts in this field, Professor Barry Goldson and Professor Nicholas Hardwick. The board carefully reviewed each recommendation made in the report and published its recommendations, together with the board’s response, in July 2017. The publication of the report's recommendations ensured that the supportive and developmental aims of the review were met.
I established a review implementation group in March 2017 to oversee the implementation of all the various recommendations arising from a number of reviews carried out around the same time, including the recommendations of the operational review. The group produced a coherent plan to implement all the recommendations, and its action plan, completed in May 2018, was published on my Department's website.
Since this group was established I am pleased to say that there is real evidence of positive change in the day to day operations of Oberstown, and this change is most recently reflected in HIQA's report of its inspections into the campus. The board of management of Oberstown had a number of concerns about the publication of the report of the operational review and decided, after a careful and lengthy process of deliberation, including the commissioning of independent legal advice, that it was not safe to publish the full report of the review. I sought legal advice from the Attorney General on the matter, who gave me similar advice that there would be significant legal risk in publishing the report in full. Accordingly, after careful consideration, I concluded that it was not appropriate to publish the full report.
I emphasise that my Department’s focus, and that of Oberstown Children Detention Campus, is on the implementation of the recommendations so as to ensure there is a safe and stable environment in Oberstown for children detained there by the Children’s Courts and for the staff who work there. The terms of reference for the operational review included a provision for a feedback visit from the reviewers to present concluding observations and recommendations to staff, management and young people.
Oberstown envisaged that the visit would take place before the reviewers had finalised their report so that any comments could be taken into account in the final version of the report. However, the reviewers maintained that it would not be possible to provide feedback until the final report had been completed. As a result, the visit did not take place.
I have no difficulty, in principle, if the reviewers wish to visit Oberstown again at this stage. Any such visit would be a matter for the board of Oberstown and the reviewers. However, I will ask the board to consider any request from the reviewers to return to visit the campus.