Press Release

Hanafin announces new interim body on special residential care

The membership of the new Interim Body on special residential services which is being set up for children convicted of committing offences, and children who have behavioural problems and are in need of special care and protection was announced today (Wednesday 5 April 2000). The establishment of this Interim Body was directed by the Minister of State with special responsibility for children, Mary Hanafin TD, last month.

The new board will be chaired by Ms Maureen Lynott who chaired the Working Group to Review the Child Abuse Guidelines which produced the report Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The other members of the new board will be:

  • Mr Tony Bates, Head of Education Service, St Joseph’s, Ferry House, Clonmel
  • Ms Brid Clarke, Assistant Chief Executive South Western Area Health Board, ERHA
  • Mr. Ger Crowley, Programme Manager, Mid-Western Health Board
  • Mr. Cathal Flynn, Chief School Attendance Officer, Dublin
  • Ms. Patricia Flynn, Director, Oberstown Girls Centre
  • Mr. Sean Hayes, Senior Probation and Welfare Officer
  • Ms Siobhan Keogh, Child Care Manager, Midland Health Board
  • Mr. Roger Killeen, Divisional Inspector, Department of Education and Science
  • Mr. Michael O’ Connor, Director, Oberstown Boys Centre
  • Mr. Dan O’Shea, Senior School Attendance Officer, Cork.

“This Interim Body is being set up in anticipation of the enactment of the Children Bill, 1999, which provides for a Special Residential Services Board. The Special Residential Services Board will then take over the Interim Body’s responsibilities when the Bill becomes law,” Minister Hanafin explained.

“While the Children Bill is currently before the Dáil, I am determined to move quickly and in advance of the formal enactment of this piece of legislation. This will ensure that there is a full system of care available to provide the best possible care for our more troubled children.”

“Also, a development programme which aims to provide 140 additional places will be speeded up,” added the Minister.

The Interim Body will advise the Ministers for Health and Children and Education and Science on policy on the remand and detention of children in detention schools and special care units. Under the terms of the Bill, a children detention order may be imposed by a court on a juvenile offender if it is the only suitable way of dealing with the child. Under such an order, a child would be placed in a detention school under the auspices of the Department of Education and Science. A special care order may be imposed on a child in need of special care or protection and the child would be placed in a unit operated by a health board.

“While these two groups of children are different, the difficulties they have and their needs are very similar,” the Minister stressed.

The new Interim Body will advise on co-ordinating the delivery of residential accommodation and support services for children in these schools and units, the efficient use of the schools and units and the level and nature of services available for children charged with offences, as well as those with behavioural problems in need of special care and protection.

“This Interim Body will also have an advisory role in relation to the development and provision of educational and other programmes for children in these schools and units, the physical infrastructure necessary to support these programmes and staff training. The Interim Body will be able to make recommendations on any of these issues ,” said the Minister.

The Minister added that the Interim Body will be able to undertake research on the detention of children and to organise seminars and conferences on issues such as the detention of children or delinquent behaviour by children. The Interim Body will comprise three representatives of the children detention schools, three representatives of the health boards, two child care experts, two education experts and a representative from the Probation and Welfare Service.

“I am delighted to be in a position to set up this new Body. I hope that it will improve the level of co-ordination of special child care residential services, where there have been difficulties in the past. The setting up of this Body further underlines this Government’s commitment to develop services for deprived and vulnerable children and their families,” concluded Minister Hanafin.

(*Note: This figure of 140 additional places is divided as follows: 30 special care and 80 high support places in the Health Board system for non-offending children and 30 in the Department of Education and Science system for offending children and children on remand.)