The Deputy will be aware that last week I announced Government approval for my plan regarding the future accommodation of prisoners currently detained at St Patrick's Institution. In line with the recommendation of the Inspector of Prisons and in order to effect the changes necessary in regime and culture and to ensure the safe and secure custody, I am satisfied that the complete closure of St. Patrick’s and the dispersal of all prisoners and staff is now required. Pending the development of new facilities in Oberstown in mid 2014, for which the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has responsibility, this will in the interim involve the transfer of all 17 year olds currently serving a sentence in St. Patrick’s Institution to a dedicated Unit in Wheatfield Prison and the transfer of the 18 to 20 year old population to Wheatfield also.
With the full co-operation and support of everyone involved, it is anticipated that this can be achieved within six months. A dedicated Project Board has been established by the Irish Prison Service to oversee this transition. It is proposed that prisoners will continue to be committed for a period of detention to St. Patrick’s Institution. They will be accommodated in a dedicated committal and assessment unit for up to 24 hours (B Wing). From here, prisoners will be dispersed to Wheatfield Prison where 150 young offender spaces will be provided. Staff assigned to this unit will receive specific training on working with young-adult prisoners.