asked the Minister for Education whether he is aware that, in the event of a child being sent to a reformatory school, no information about travelling schedules is made available to parents resident in Dublin; and whether more flexible visiting arrangements will be made for these parents who have to make a great effort to see their children at all.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Visits to Reformatory Schools.
I am not aware of any difficulties encountered by Dublin parents in visiting their children in reformatory schools through lack of information about travelling schedules.
The parents are informed of the days and times for visiting the children in the schools concerned and the parents make their own travel arrangements.
Although, for understandable reasons of discipline and good order visiting of children in these schools is normally restricted to prescribed times, the practice is that managers are only too happy to accommodate at other times those parents or relatives who find it inconvenient to visit the children at the regular periods.
A problem does arise in the case of Dublin parents whose children may perhaps be in Letterfrack, Daingean or places further afield. Would it be possible, in cases of difficulty, where people are working all the week and where only the weekend is available for visits and where CIE transport is not very satisfactory on Sundays, to allow these children out at stated intervals to visit their parents on a more frequent basis than at present, say, once a month?
That is not a bad suggestion. The fact is that most people visit in the centres mentioned by the Deputy in hackneys by groups. Very few use the bus services. There may be something in having days other than the first Sunday in each month, which is the visiting day in these institutions. It might be an idea to have another day prescribed for such visits.
Does the Minister agree that these children are not in the position of adult criminals? It should be possible to allow these children to visit their parents, say, one day in the month. They should be entitled to do that because if, as in most cases, their parents can only visit them on a Sunday it means, in the case of Daingean I understand, that the first bus leaves Dublin at 10 a.m. and the only other one leaves at 7 p.m. This means that an ordinary person may be involved in expenditure of about, I am told, £3 or £4 in visiting a child on the only day that it is open to do so. In effect, this means for many people that it is impossible to visit their children. If a child is in a reformatory school because of a bad home background the situation is worsened and the child is further penalised and the chance of the child becoming a normal adult is that much decreased. I suggest that the Minister should look seriously into the possibility of allowing children the right, on one day a month, to visit their homes so that the connection between parent and child is not totally broken.
That might be too expensive. I am more impressed by the idea that we might have alternative days, apart from the first Sunday of each month, for these visits. This might meet the case to some extent.
Would the Minister not consider the idea of a day at home for the child once a month?
I shall consider that but I think we can accept the other idea of having alternative visiting days.