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Young people in St. Patrick’s Institution; A report by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office

In 2007, the OCO commissioned research to identify the kinds of barriers facing children in the achievement of their rights. Children in the criminal justice system were identified as a group of children in Ireland who face multiple barriers to the enjoyment of their rights.

If relatively little is known about children who come into conflict with the law, even less is known about their perspectives, including as regards their experiences of and within the criminal justice system. This group of young people are among those children in Ireland whose voices we cannot readily hear and, sadly, whose voices society is not generally interested in hearing.

The aim of this consultation is in the first instance to make sure that their voices are heard. But there is little achieved if we do not convince those who come into contact with these young people that their views are legitimate, that the discrepancies that exist place a responsibility on them to communicate, to educate, to listen and to support these young people in understanding this world or regime as it is called.

The issues we talked to the young people about were wide-ranging and concern key aspects of care in the Institution such as sentence planning; accommodation; health; education; recreation; contact with family; safety and protection; and complaint-handling.